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'Unfinished business' at Raiders but Bateman signs with Wigan

John Bateman “still has plenty of unfinished business at the Raiders” after announcing he is returning to Wigan until at least 2024. 

The English second-rower, who is heading back to Wigan on a four-year deal with an option for a fifth year, posted on Instagram to say he wanted to go one better with the Raiders in 2021 after they went so close to winning last year's title.

The 26-year-old Dally M Second Rower of the Year was superb in Canberra’s charge to the grand final last year but has sidelined thus season due to shoulder surgeries. 

In his social media post, he wrote: "I don’t care what anyone says I’ll be finishing the season out on that field with a bunch of blokes I love to bits and in front of a wall of green from the amazing fans!!! I want to go out the best way possible and that for me is going one better than last year. I will be doing everything in my powers to make that happen."

In the statement released by Wigan, he added: “I’m very happy to be returning to Wigan on a long-term contract. On a personal level, some of the best times of my life have been in a Wigan shirt and I can’t wait to return, to play and make some more memories.

“It’s been a tough decision but to be back to Wigan, to be at home with my little girl, my Mum and the rest of my family is something I can’t wait to experience once again.

“I still have plenty of unfinished business with the Raiders and my focus now is to get myself back on the pitch as soon as possible and put myself in the frame for selection.”

Bateman broke the news to his daughter Millie via an emotional Zoom call.

Wigan executive director, Kris Radlinski was thrilled to have beaten Canterbury in the race for Bateman’s signature. 

“John is one of the best players in the world. He has the respect of players and coaches in both hemispheres and is a natural born competitor and leader.

“We’ve been extremely proud to see him take the NRL by storm in 2019 and we’ve always looked forward to welcoming him back to Wigan when the opportunity presented itself.

“We had an agreement with him that, should he come back to the UK Super League, then we would have first option on him.

"As he’s entering the prime years of his playing career, I think it’s a real coup for the Betfred Super League to have a player of his calibre return to the competition.

Match Highlights: Raiders v Dragons

“In what are incredibly challenging times we need to be sensitive to the fact that the financial impact of the coronavirus will inevitably lead to a restructuring of the squad and the club. 

“John’s arrival next season has been part of that careful squad financial planning. 

“The reality is that like many other industries we will be making difficult financial decisions for some time to come, as will all clubs.

“We’re in no doubt that this investment in John, as someone who knows exactly what it means to represent our jersey, will continue to drive the club forwards and bring our famously loyal supporters the excitement they’ve earned, as we all head into what will be a crucial period for the sport.

“John is now completely focused on getting fit and returning to the Raiders squad and finishing off his adventure in Australia on the highest note possible.”

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