By DOUG THOMSON and DAVID KUZIO
NRL clubs are reportedly monitoring John Bateman’s situation at Wigan amid suggestions the former Canberra Raiders star could be open to a return Down Under.
Having signed a three-year Canberra contract, which started in 2019, the England and Great Britain second row cut short his spell in Australia to return to Wigan ahead of this season.
The one-time Bradford player was a big hit with the Raiders, helping them reach the NRL Grand Final in 2019, when he won the prestigious Dally M second rower award.
But he was keen to be closer to his daughter, who stayed in England, with Wigan delighted to have him back on the books after his previous five-season stint, which featured four Super League Grand Final appearances, two of them successful.
Bateman, 27, has three years remaining on his contract at Wigan, who have hit a rocky patch that has left coach Adrian Lam under pressure as they as they seek a second successive Grand Final appearance.
There have been suggestions in Australia that Bateman’s partner is feeling homesick in England.
Lam’s side suffered a 14-0 home defeat by Leeds on Wednesday, when Bateman played after overturning a one-match suspension.
Bateman had been charged with using foul and abusive language towards referee Chris Kendall during the 26-2 home defeat by St Helens.
But he successfully argued his comments were directed towards Saints forward Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook.
Lam has admitted he might have to start making some tough decisions in regards to his team selection after his side failed to score a try for the second game running.
They have now gone 204 minutes without posting any four-pointers.
“I’m at that point now where changes needed to be made,” said Lam.
“Our challenge is to sort out positionally who needs to play for us and who is going to give me their absolute best. I was disappointed with some performances (against Leeds). It’s one thing not picking players, but you have got to have the players to replace them as well.”
When reflecting on the performance against Leeds, Lam admitted he was disappointed and frustrated with what his side is dishing up.
“Our execution was really poor at times. When you don’t have confidence, you lack cohesion in the team. We should have executed when they had eleven players. We were flustered and panicked when we were attacking.
“We had a few windows of opportunity in the first half which we didn’t capitalise on and that’s what hurt us. There were three or four tries that we should have scored and we didn’t – it’s unacceptable and not good enough. We should execute at those moments.
“No one is grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck and taking control of it – that’s the frustrating part. We had opportunities but we made basic, simple, silly errors and it’s not us. I know we’re down in confidence as a group and when that filters in it can hurt the team and that’s where we are at – it’s reflective in the way we are playing at the moment.
“We’ve got ourselves into this problem, we’ve got to find a way to get out now. It belongs between the four walls – me, the players and the staff – we are the ones who have found ourselves in this position and we are the ones who can get us out.”
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