WIGAN WARRIORS have confirmed another pre-season jaunt to Cumbria and a home meeting with Salford for hooker Sam Powell’s testimonial as speculation over John Bateman’s possible return to Australia rumbles on.
Having already inked in a visit to Whitehaven on Sunday, January 22, the Warriors have confirmed a trip to Barrow seven days later, Sunday 29. Powell’s big day is on Sunday, February 5.
Whether star England second rower Bateman will still be at Wigan by then remains a hot topic of conversation.
The ex-Canberra Raiders player continues to be strongly linked with Wests Tigers, whose Chairman Lee Hagipantelis gave a clear hint that talks over a reported £140,000 transfer have taken place.
“I did see quoted in the paper Tim Sheens (the Wests coach) saying that the discussions are continuing,” said Hagipantelis.
“Where they land, who knows?
“Our policy is not to discuss publicly recruitment or retention decisions.”
Should Bradford product Bateman, who is in his second spell at the Warriors and under contract until 2024, with the option of a further year, make the move back to the NRL, there will be no playing reunion with his old Wigan team-mate Jackson Hastings.
The 26-year-old ex-Sydney Roosters, Manly Sea Eagles, Salford and Great Britain star has left Wests halfway through a two-year contract to join Newcastle Knights on a three-year deal.
Bateman, 29, played for the Warriors from 2014 until 2018 and returned after two years at Canberra, saying he wanted to be closer to his UK-based daughter (he also has a daughter with his Australian partner).
The 2019 Dally M second rower of the year is a two-time Super League title winner and also helped Wigan win the 2017 World Club Challenge and this year’s Challenge Cup.
Former England Knights player Powell, 30, who played in last month’s World Cup warm-up game against Fiji, made his Warriors debut in 2012 after coming through the Academy.
“To spend such a long time at a special club like Wigan is a real achievement,” he said.