It was the transfer saga that ran on for a long time over the off-season but it was finally confirmed that John Bateman would be returning to the NRL as he signed a four-year deal with Wests Tigers.
It was on, it was off and now it’s officially on and done with Bateman confirmed as Tigers newest star for former Hull KR boss, Tim Sheens.
Bateman had previously played in the NRL for Canberra Raiders and earned himself the Daly M Second-rower of the year award in his debut season but injuries cut short his stay.
Now that he’s back Australian media are continuing to react and the Daily Telegraph are claiming that Bateman will play a major role in defining Wests’ season.
Paul Crawley, of The Daily Telegraph, writes: “The club’s biggest coup is Englishman John Bateman on a four-year deal. Bateman’s competitive edge and nature, his unwavering desire to win, makes him the most important signing for the club in recent times.
“He was not only the buy of the year back in 2019 but a cornerstone in the Canberra’s run to the grand final that year. Bateman’s work ethic, tenacity and ability to lift others around him will be the difference between another disappointing season and a competitive Tigers outfit.”
Crawley continues and refers to Bateman as the “cherry” of Wests recruitment highlighting the level at which he is viewed by the NRL insiders and journalists.
Bateman joins a handful of elite English talent in the NRL but he’s the only one locked down beyond 2023 with the likes of Victor Radley, Herbie Farnworth, Dom Young, Tom Burgess and Luke Thompson.
Bateman will be the premier English talent in the league, alongside the arrival of two youngsters at Newcastle Knights for 2024 in the shape of Will Pryce and Kai Pearce-Paul.
Crawley went a step further in his praise of Bateman as he said: “Both (Tim Sheens and his assistant Benji Marshall) will need to lean on Bateman, who oozes tenacity, as a shot in the arm to their DNA endeavours.”
“It (success) rests on how quickly Bateman and Co. can drive cultural change.”
Immense praise and expectations for the former Wigan Warriors man as Wests will attempt to avoid finishing bottom of the pile for a second consecutive year.