John Bateman’s move from Wigan Warriors to the NRL hit a problem as he prepared 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.
But fans have been waiting to see him in action because of visa delays and police checks.
Speaking to SEN radio in Australia, Wests Tigers’ chairman Lee Hagipantelis explained why Bateman was stranded in England for so long.
“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.”
Eventually, the $42 police check was completed and following this Bateman finally landed in Australia. However, he wasn’t ready to play.
He missed today’s season opener against Gold Coast Titans as the Tigers lost.
But Tim Sheens won’t rush Bateman into the fold because of the defeat with it seeming that Bateman will take some time to debut.
“I won’t commit to much on that. John has basically just landed, he’s settling in still doesn’t know the plays.
“I’m not going to push him if he’s not ready. If it was a grand final he would play but we have invested four years in him and we’re not going to ruin it early pushing him because we have lost a game.”