Bateman hit with punishment by Warriors

John Bateman was the frontrunner for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award
John Bateman was the frontrunner for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award
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John Bateman has been handed an eight-game ban by Wigan.

He will not be free to play until July 22 after being punished for his role in a drunken fracas last month.

Disciplinary action needed to be taken and to be seen to have been taken

Ian Lenagan

He has also been handed a £10,000 fine.

Warriors confirmed the punishment in a statement, ending speculation the England international may be leaving the club in wake of the off-field drama.

Related article: Bateman - How the drama unfolded

He is not currently training at the club but Wigan say he will return within the next month.

Chairman Ian Lenagan said: “It is difficult to take such disciplinary action but we are responsible for the behaviour of Wigan players and the good name and reputation of Wigan Rugby League Club and all that it stands for.

“Disciplinary action needed to be taken and to be seen to have been taken.

“John Bateman has expressed his full regret at the incident, as have other parties, and the club will be working hard with John to ensure that he learns properly from the experience and comes back stronger than ever. He will remain a Wigan player and return to training during the period.”

Bateman last played for Wigan in a 33-26 win at Castleford on May 26.

Trouble erupted the following day at Xercise4Less gym in the town centre, following an afternoon out at Haydock Races.

Claims players had been brawling lit up social media.

Wigan confirmed their own investigation which dragged on more than two weeks, during which time Bateman was left out of the side for victories at Salford and Hull KR.

His omission effectively confirmed widespread rumours that he was involved. No other player was left out of the team.

Warriors didn’t issue any statement but Shaun Wane was repeatedly asked about Bateman in press conferences, and said he was “not available” while an internal investigation was ongoing.

While many fans have become increasingly frustrated at how long the saga has dragged on, they will be relieved it appears he will be staying at the club. He does have a release-clause in his long-term deal allowing him to move to the NRL in 2019 if a transfer fee is agreed.

Bateman, who broke into the England side last year, has been in outstanding form and was the bookmakers’ favourite for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel until this controversy.

The two games he has missed count towards his eight-game, club-imposed suspension.

Lenagan added: “Kris Radlinski and Shaun Wane are confident that the spirit and togetherness of the squad is at a high level, which has been illustrated by the fact that two difficult wins were achieved during the period of investigative distraction.

“The incident is now viewed as closed and no further comment will be made by club or players.”

Greater Manchester Police also confirmed it was investigating after criminal damage was caused to the gym building. A spokesman was asked for an update today but had yet to reply.

It’s rare for a Super League club to impose a match-ban on a player, though within the last year Justin Carney (Castleford) and Brett Ferres (Huddersfield) were both suspended for off-field indiscretions. The latter didn’t miss any games before an off-season transfer to Leeds.

Wigan say the “judgement was reached after a disciplinary panel listened to testimony and evidence for a second time to ensure appropriate conclusions and actions”.

The club admitted the incident involved two players and acknowledged the delay in finishing its investigation but added “it was felt vitally important for both the players and the club that the correct judgements were reached.”