SHAUN Wane will protect John Bateman from over-exposure this season - no matter how well he plays.
The coach has high hopes for Wigan’s six-figure recruit for Bradford Bulls, and will make his long-term prospect his main priority.
Bateman, 20, made a try-scoring debut in Wigan’s 36-28 friendly win at Leigh on Sunday.
And Wane was impressed with the contribution of the former Great Britain academy captain.
He said: “We got a good 60 minutes out of him and he did well, I was really impressed with him.
“He’s still a kid and he’s going to be a good player for us.
“I’m glad he’s in our system.
“He’s not been well looked after, so we’ll look after him this year and next season you’ll see a much better player.”
Bateman debuted for the Bulls as a 17-year-old, and would surely have made more than 30 Super League appearances had he not been hampered by injuries.
When he signed a three-year deal with the double winners, rugby manager Kris Radlinski said they would “strip him down and build him back up.”
And Wane (right) says that will require him to shackle him during 2014.
“He’s not going to play too many games this year, no matter how good his form is,” said Wane.
“He’s here for the long-time and we need to make the right decisions on him. We’ll be looking after him.”
Bateman was pleased to get a hit-out in Sunday’s win - and says he has complete faith in Wane’s ability to help fulfill his potential.
“It was good to get the run out, I enjoyed it,” he said.
“I feel really settled in now, I’m getting used to the system and I know the lads well.
“There are plenty of good players around me, and good young players too, which is why I came here.
“I’ll try my best to play every week, but whatever Waney wants, I trust his judgement on it.
“He wants to build my body up, because last year I took a few big hits, and I’m happy with whatever he decides.”