John Bateman’s move from Wigan Warriors to the NRL recently hit a problem as he prepares to join the Wests Tigers.
It was reported by The Sydney Morning Herald that a Visa issue left Bateman stranded in the UK.
It now seems the former Canberra Raiders forward will not be available for the opening game of the season.
Bateman is joining the club on a four-year deal.
The former Wigan Warriors forward was set to link up with Wests Tigers in January, having played the last two seasons in the English Super League.
The 29-year-old joins Wests Tigers for what will be his second stint in the NRL, having made a huge impact in his two seasons with Canberra.
Bateman helped take the Raiders all the way to the NRL grand final in 2019, falling one game short of a second grand final appearance the following year.
Wests Tigers Head Coach Tim Sheens said at the time of the announcement that Bateman is an important addition to the team:
“He’s a world class player with an enormous work ethic.
He’s the type of player who leads by example.
Bateman himself said he was excited to be joining Wests Tigers during an exciting phase for the club.
“I can’t wait to begin a new chapter at a club that I know is going places,” he said.
“There has been a lot of change at Wests Tigers over the past few months and everything I hear is positive.
Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe added: “We are delighted to welcome John and his family to the club.
“This is another important piece in what we are building as a club, and I know John will play a very important role in the time that he is with us.”
But fans have been waiting to see him in action.
Speaking to SEN radio in Australia, Wests Tigers’ chairman Lee Hagipantelis explained why Bateman was still stranded in England.
“It’s got to go through police checks here, police check over there, he stands in line, there’s no exceptional circumstances for him (to) jump the queue,” Hagipantelis said on SEN 1170 Breakfast.
“It’s a working visa of course, it’s not a tourist visa which is much easier to get… we’re just going through the motions.
“It’s beyond frustrating. I’m not going to make any excuses, we would have loved to have him here by now.
“We spoke to him last night via Zoom at our season launch; he’s very excited to get here. He’s doing what he needs to do to keep himself fit and train, and they’re sending him all the plays.”
Now though the $42 police check has been completed leaving Wests hopeful that Bateman will soon be able to come over to Sydney.
Following this, reports down under are saying that Bateman will land in Australia this week.
When asked if he will be ready for Round One, Sheens said:
“We’ll just let him settle down,” Sheens said.
“It’s a long-term contract and I know everyone wants to get away to a good start, but I’m not going to make a decision on that until he gets here.
“We’ll have a talk and he’ll get around with us. He doesn’t know the players to any great degree or know the plays. He hasn’t done the conditioning that we have.”