GREAT BRITAIN international John Bateman returning from the NRL to Wigan Warriors is a real “coup” for Super League, according to the club’s executive director Kris Radlinski.
The former Bradford Bulls second-row will rejoin the club from Canberra Raiders at the end of the season on a four-year deal – with a further option for a fifth year.
England star Bateman, 26, has established himself as one of the best forwards in the world since leaving Wigan for Canberra.
Last season he helped them reach their first Grand Final in 25 years and was named Dally M Second Row of the Year given his quality 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.
“John is one of the best players in the world,” said Radlinski.
“He’s 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 career, I think it’s a real coup for Betfred Super League to have a player of his calibre return to the comp’.”
As Super League enters 2021 and the final year of its broadcast deal, clearly it is a significant boost while the Yorkshireman admits being closer to his daughter Millie was one reason behind the decision.
He said: “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.
“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.”
In another boost for Super League, dual-code Australia international Israel Folau has turned down the chance to return to the NRL in favour of extending his stay with Catalans Dragons until the end of 2021.
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