Wigan Warriors star John Bateman has been backed for a sensational move.
Early in August, Bateman was said to have been the subject of interest from NRL side Wests Tigers, but that speculation was dismissed by the Wigan club.
Now, though, claims have resurfaced after former Canberra Raiders teammate Elliott Whitehead backed Bateman to return to the NRL.
Asked if he could see Batemen return to Australia, Whitehead told the Daily Telegraph: “Maybe, maybe.
“He definitely left before his time was over in the NRL.
“But he had his reasons at the time. I think if Covid wasn’t around he would not have left … but because of Covid, he didn’t get to see his daughter, it was hard for him.
“If people could come back and forth, I think it would have been a different story for both he and George Williams.”
Bateman’s time at Canberra was cut short by the England international wanting to return home during the Covid-19 pandemic to be nearer his daughter.
And, with a contract signed at Wigan until the end of 2024, the Warriors would not let him go without a transfer fee.
Whitehead also believes that the back-rower left a legacy in the Australian capital despite only spending two seasons with the Raiders.
“John was a massive part of what we did in 2019. He is a winner, he loves to compete. He brought a lot to the team in that aspect, we still have that in us … that hunger to win, the competitiveness he brought, it’s still there in us and we want to keep building on that even more now,” Whitehead said.
“Especially after losing in the grand final in 2019, after coming so close, we want to get back there.”
Of course, Wigan will not want to lose such an influential player on and off the pitch with Bateman set to play a key role as Wigan aim for the double in 2022.