John Bateman excited for 2022 with Wigan Warriors after noticing a positive change around the club

John Bateman is adamant things feel back on track for Wigan Warriors after a difficult 2021.

Friday, 31st December 2021, 9:04 am
Updated Friday, 31st December 2021, 9:27 am
John Bateman is excited for 2022

The 28-year-old rejoined the club last season following a two-year stint in the NRL at Canberra, but admits it wasn’t the easiest of campaigns.

Heading into 2022, he is positive about the direction Wigan are going in – and believes the squad has to get closer as a group.

He said: “I don’t feel like I enjoyed last year as much as I should’ve. I looked at it more as a job, and I’ve never seen it as that throughout my whole career.

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“The conversations we had when we were losing just weren’t good enough, it became repetitive.

“We didn’t really have a connection as a team, due to Covid and not being allowed to do anything outside of training.

“You tend to play better with people you know, because you can create a relationship with them.

“That’s all changed now, there is a ‘team first’ mentality. Matty (Peet) has brought back what we need and engraved things into us, that will help us move forward.

“We have to be competitive week in week out, we are Wigan Warriors, we need to turn up and work hard.

“It’s a team sport, it’s about all of us and not individuals. We are part of a family and win as a team.

“Every day so far, I’ve driven back into training and been excited to be back alongside the boys just playing rugby.

“I think last year there was a few of us who did too much talking about what we wanted to achieve, but this year we will keep them close to our chest.

“We want to go out there and do what we need to do, enjoying every aspect of it.

“We want to have great culture around the place, because I feel as if we lost that, but we are getting back to it.”

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Bateman says he didn’t realise how hard it would be settling back into things straight away at Wigan, following his return from the Raiders.

“I moved back here and didn’t have a house, I travelled to most of pre-season from Bradford every day, which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy,” he said. “I probably underestimated it a little bit. I didn’t know the coach last year, I’d only played with a few of the lads, so it was a different environment. It’s one those things, you live and you learn from it.”

So far, Bateman has enjoyed pre-season under new head coach Peet, and says there is a good feeling around Robin Park, even if they’ve been put flogged – with gruelling sessions at Formby beach and with the army.

“The atmosphere and the training have been good,” he said. “It’s hard, but if you went through all the Super League clubs, they’d all say the same.

“There’s a totally different vibe around the place to last year, we’re quite upbeat. We’ve got a few new faces, which needed to be done.

“I’ve done Formby once before under Waney when I first came, and I thought I’d seen the back of it, but it was good to get the session in.

“I’ll be honest with you, it’s a lot different to the beaches in Australia for the new lads.

“It’s always going to be tough in pre-season, it’s what you expect. I feel like we’re in a good place, and we’re all looking forward moving into the games.”

Bateman is hoping the squad can create a strong bond with the fans and highlighted the important role they play.

“It was tough without them,” he added. “It was one of those weird seasons, I hope never happens again.

“It was very different to what any of us as professional are used to. It will be fantastic to get the fans back because they are a massive part of what we do.

“Being involved with them has been perfect. I went meeting some young kids at a school last week and it was a really good experience.

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