Canberra Raiders star John Bateman re-signs for Wigan Warriors in Super League 'coup'

Returning home to be closer to daughter Millie is one reason why England star John Bateman will leave Canberra Raiders at the end of the season to rejoin Wigan Warriors.

John Bateman of the Canberra Raiders during the round 3 Canberra Raiders and Newcastle Knights match at GIO Stadium on March 29, 2019 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

The former Bradford Bulls second-row has signed on a four-year deal - with a further option for a fifth year - in a major boost for not only the Cherry and Whites but the Super League competition.

Bateman, 26, has enhanced his status as one of the best forwards in the world since leaving Wigan for Canberra at the end of 2018.

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Last season he helped them reach their first Grand Final in 25 years and was named the Dally M Second Rower of the Year given the quality of his displays in his maiden campaign with the Raiders.

Bateman, who won two Super League titles with Wigan after leaving hometown Bradford, had another year left on his deal at the NRL club but was allowed to explore his options.

“I’m very happy to be returning to Wigan on a long-term contract," he said.

"On a personal level, some of the best times of my life have been in a Wigan shirt and I can’t wait to return, to play and make some more memories.

“It’s been a tough decision but to be back to Wigan, to be at home with my little girl, my Mum and the rest of my family is something I can’t wait to experience once again.

Wigan's John Bateman (far right) celebrates with team-mates Tony Clubb and Sean O'Loughlin after winning the 2018 Grand Final - his last game for the club before moving to the NRL. (Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

"I still have plenty of unfinished business with the Raiders and my focus now is to get myself back on the pitch as soon as possible and put myself in the frame for selection.”

The Great Britain international is yet to feature this season as he still recovers from shoulder surgery but hopes to be back soon as Canberra bid to go one further than last term when they were beaten by champions Sydney Roosters in the endgame.

Wigan executive director, Kris Radlinski said: “Wigan are thrilled to be bringing John back to the DW Stadium.

“John is one of the best players in the world. He has the respect of players and coaches in both hemispheres and is a natural born competitor and leader.

“We’ve been extremely proud to see him take the NRL by storm in 2019 and we’ve always looked forward to welcoming him back to Wigan when the opportunity presented itself.

"We had an agreement with him that, should he come back to the UK Super League, then we would have first option on him.

"As he’s entering the prime years of his playing career, I think it’s a real coup for the Betfred Super League to have a player of his calibre return to the competition.

“In what are incredibly challenging times we need to be sensitive to the fact that the financial impact of the coronavirus will inevitably lead to a restructuring of the squad and the Club. "John’s arrival next season has been part of that careful squad financial planning.

"We’re delighted that the continuing overwhelming assistance and messages of support from Wigan fans has made that process more tolerable than it might have been.

"The reality is that like many other industries we will be making difficult financial decisions for some time to come, as will all clubs.

“We’re in no doubt that this investment in John, as someone who knows exactly what it means to represent our jersey, will continue to drive the club forwards and bring our famously loyal supporters the excitement they’ve earned, as we all head into what will be a crucial period for the sport.

“John is now completely focused on getting fit and returning to the Raiders squad and finishing off his adventure in Australia on the highest note possible.”