Bateman inks lengthy Tigers deal as English club airs ‘frustrations’

English international John Bateman is the latest marquee signing in Wests Tigers’ roster overhaul after the joint-venture club confirmed a significant four-year deal to bring him back to the NRL.

Bateman, 29, has been in talks for several months with the Tigers and has now been reluctantly released by Super League heavyweights Wigan.

A “significant transfer fee” was the source of much wrangling between the clubs, with suggestions the Tigers paid up to $250,000 to secure Bateman’s release. Transfer fees do not count towards the NRL salary cap.

A four-year deal will see Bateman turn 33 by the time his contract is up in 2026, making he and fellow recruit David Klemmer (who has a mutual option for 2026) the longest signings on the Tigers books.

The club has also been pursuing Eels star Mitchell Moses, who is expected to become the game’s next million-dollar playmaker as he weighs up approaches from the Tigers, Bulldogs and Parramatta’s own four-year offer.

Along with Klemmer and grand finalists Api Koroisau and Isaiah Papali’i, Bateman heralds a revamped forward pack under veteran coach Tim Sheens.

“He’s a world-class player with an enormous work ethic,” Sheens said.

“He’s the type of player who leads by example. I have no doubt John will make a big contribution to this club over the next few years.”

Bateman made a splash during a two-year stint with the Raiders, playing a significant role in Canberra’s 2019 grand final run and preliminary final appearance the next season.

His first NRL stint was cut short when family reasons and a lucrative offer from Wigan lured him back to England.

The Super League club’s press release confirming Bateman’s exit referenced “somewhat of a frustrating period” regarding the back-rower’s talks recent talks with the Tigers.

Wigan have also detailed the back-and-forth of negotiations and their interactions with Bateman, a rarity in official press releases.

In a statement issued by the Tigers, Bateman said the overhaul being steered by Sheens and eventual successor Benji Marshall saw him take up the wooden spooners’ offer.

“I can’t wait to begin a new chapter at a club that I know is going places,” Bateman said.

“There has been a lot of change at Wests Tigers over the past few months and everything I hear is positive.

“I want to be a part of the rebuild at the club and I’m really excited to be coming back to the NRL.”

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