The ongoing transfer saga surrounding John Bateman has taken a few more twists and turns over the last few days.
Wests Tigers are reportedly pursuing Bateman and the Wigan Warriors man has, according to reports down under, has suggested he would be keen on the move in a meeting with former Hull KR boss Tim Sheens.
Bateman signed with Canberra for the 2019 season and helped the Raiders to the Grand Final, however he returned to Wigan following an injury hit 2020 campaign.
He was exceptional in the NRL being named Dally M backrower of the year in 2019 and his partner also comes from Australia and there are reports she has already returned to Australia.
It was reported earlier this week that Wests are keen on securing a deal for Bateman with Channel 7 journalist Michelle Bishop reporting on SEN 1170 Breakfast: “The Wests Tigers have actually agreed to pay Bateman’s transfer fee from the UK. That’s all happening.
The sticking point was that Wests, with plenty of cap space and seeking a resurgence after a wooden spoon finish in 2022 also want to re-sign Mitchell Moses from Parramatta and were holding out on signing Bateman, until they could ensure the future of both players – something they had tried to manipulate through the fact Bateman and Moses share an agent.
However the Eels, fresh off Grand Final defeat, are intent on keeping as much of their squad and have reportedly refuted any advance from Wests for Moses and they maintain he’ll remain an Eel for 2023.
What this means is that Tigers now no longer have to play the balancing act on the salary cap tightrope and can instead nail down Bateman to a contract as soon as they want.
Wigan boss Matt Peet has come out this week with quotes on the Warriors website that Wests have made no approach, contrary to Bishop’s statement that: “Wests have agreed to pay Bateman’s transfer fee.”
“There’s no news yet. As far as I’m aware, I don’t think anything has changed,” Peet explained.
“We’ve spoken to John. He’s on holiday at the moment, but there’s constant communication.”
On his squad Peet said: “I’m very happy with the squad as it stands but you always have one eye on recruitment and retention.
“My thinking is, our squad now will be the one that starts the season, that’s how we work.”
If Peet is planning on the current squad being what the Cherry and Whites head into the season with that implies he doesn’t see Bateman moving, but given the Australian reports, the Tigers missing out on Moses it seems the Tigers will go all guns blazing in a bid to bring Bateman back to the NRL.