John Bateman departs Wigan Warriors with immediate effect after signing for Wests Tigers
The 29-year-old has signed a four-year deal with Wests Tigers, as he returns to Australia for a second stint, after previously playing for Canberra Raiders.
Bradford-born Bateman has enjoyed two spells with Wigan, picking up two Grand Final victories between 2014 and 2018, and then a Challenge Cup since he rejoined ahead the 2021 season.
In a statement, the Warriors wrote: “The club first heard murmurings that John Bateman wanted to leave in July.
"After speaking to John, his agent and the Club in question, we made it clear that we wanted John to remain at Wigan and the matter was closed.
“During the World Cup campaign, John let the club know of his desire to go back to the NRL.
"He asked to get the World Cup out of the way first, and then pick up discussions.
"With our desire to help England to do well in the tournament, we agreed to wait. After the tournament, John went on holiday and expressed his uncertainty regarding his future and requested time again to sort out in his own mind what he wanted to do.
“On Wednesday 14th of December, John informed us of his decision that he wants to try the NRL one more time.
“It has been somewhat of a frustrating period but the club now accepts that it is in everyone’s best interests that John is allowed a transfer from Wigan. On Friday 23rd December, the paperwork was completed.
“In situations like this, there are obvious consequences. The uncertainty surrounding John's future means that we have had to delay the squad numbers. The squad numbers have now been signed off and will be communicated between Christmas and New Year.
“Secondly, there will be no immediate replacement for John as players have their contracts agreed with their clubs.
"The recruitment of two class centres in Toby King and Jake Wardle means that Willie Isa and Kai Pearce-Paul can move back to their preferred positions at back row and with Liam Farrell and Morgan Smithies, we have lots of options.
"We will continue to monitor the squad and the marketplace as the 2023 Super League season unfolds.
“As always in these situations, we have acted with the best interests of the club at heart and we will continue to act in that manner. The club received a significant transfer fee for John.
"We thank John for his service over his two stints and we wish him well.”
Meanwhile, Bateman says he is excited to get started with Wests Tigers.
Speaking to the club, he said: “I can’t wait to begin a new chapter at a club that I know is going places.
“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.”