SEAN O’Loughlin reckons Wigan have pulled off a coup in recruiting John Bateman.
The double-winners beat off competition from Super League rivals Huddersfield and Salford to entice the forward to the club.
Bateman is only 20, but he’s already made an impression on Super League and captained the England academy side against the Australian Schoolboys.
And England Test ace O’Loughlin reckons his arrival will help drive up competition in the pack.
He said: “John was injured a bit last season but from playing against him in the past, he’s always been a handful.
“He’s performed well for them, and he was heavily involved in the England academy side, which shows you how highly he is regarded.
“He’ll be a good buy for us. He’s coming into a well-established pack and I know he’s still young, but he’ll be pushing for a spot.
“He’s not only one for the future, but one for now.”
Wigan paid out a transfer fee reported elsewhere to be around £80,000 to sign him on a three-year deal.
Bateman is the second back-rower to arrive in the off-season, after London’s Tony Clubb.
They will fight with Jack Hughes, Greg Burke, Liam Farrell and Harrison Hansen for positions.
Meanwhile, O’Loughlin was pleased to make his return from an Achilles injury to help England to a 42-0 win against Ireland on Saturday.
He played around an hour of the match at Huddersfield, his third match in three months – the other two being the Challenge Cup Final and Grand Final.
“A couple of the lads said, ‘There’s no trophy to lift at the end of this game’,” he smiled. “It was good to play, the Achilles was as good as it’s felt for a while.”
O’Loughlin was one of three Wiganers in the England RL team, with Sam Tomkins and Chris Hill, while just as many from the town were in the national rugby union side which beat Australia at Twickenham – Owen Farrell, Joel Tomkins and Chris Ashton.
“The town has had a lot of publicity this year, with us getting the double and Latics winning the FA Cup, and it’s great that Wigan does so well in sport,” he said.
“It’s nice to see so many representing their country, whether it’s athletics or rugby union or league.”