John Bateman to leave Wigan and join the NRL

John Bateman
John Bateman

England international John Bateman has confirmed he will leave Wigan at the end of the season to join the NRL.

The centre or second rower has exercised an opt-out clause in his Warriors contract that enables him to make the move for 2019 and, although his destination has not been revealed, he is expected to join current team-mate Ryan Sutton at Canberra.

Wigan say they will received an undisclosed transfer fee for the former Bradford player, who has also agreed a three-year deal deal to become their marquee player when he returns to Super League at the end of his stint in Australia.

Bateman, 24, who joined Wigan from Bradford five years ago, said: "This has been an incredibly tough decision for me to make as I have enjoyed my time at Wigan so much.

"But, ultimately, I have always had the desire to play in the NRL at some point in my career so this opportunity is something I didn't want to turn down.

"Wigan did all they could, in my opinion, to keep me here but I was always up front with them regarding my motivation to play in a different competition.

"Although I'm sad to be leaving the Warriors, it's great to know I'll be returning here in a couple of years."

The departure of Bateman, who has established himself in the England side since leaving the Bulls, continues the major upheaval at Wigan, who will also bid farewell to head coach Shaun Wane and England full-back Sam Tomkins at the end of the season.

Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan said: "John was adamant that he wanted to try his hand in the NRL and, once it became clear to us that he couldn't be persuaded, we wanted to ensure that the club gained the best deal in these set of circumstances.

"I believe we have done so. Despite John's experience, he is still only 24 and, throughout our discussions, he has made it clear to us that he is determined to return to Wigan in the future.

"He will do so as a better player then, entering the peak years of his career, so we will look forward to welcoming him back to the club."

Wigan rugby executive Kris Radlinski is confident the club have enough second-row resources to offset the loss of Bateman.

"With the recent signing of Joe Greenwood from the NRL to add to Liam Farrell and Willie Isa, coupled with promising youngsters such as Liam Paisley coming through the ranks, we still have plenty of quality in our second-row department that we can call upon," Radlinksi said.

Bateman will be in good company in the NRL and in particular at Canberra, where his close friend and former Bradford team-mate Elliott Whitehead plays.

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