‘I’m ready’: Bateman’s arrival could be just in time for round one
John Bateman says he will be ready to play as soon as required, raising hopes he could be available for Wests Tigers’ opening-round clash after arriving in Sydney on Friday morning.
Bateman, along with his partner and child, headed straight to the club’s new centre of excellence to meet the staff after their long-haul flight from England. The Tigers announced Bateman’s signing on a four-year deal on Boxing Day, but visa complications have resulted in almost two months of delays.
However, the former Raiders back-rower will have a full week of training with his new teammates – including new fellow forwards Apisai Koroisau, Isaiah Papali’i and David Klemmer – before the round-one clash against the Gold Coast on Sunday week.
Whether coach Tim Sheens feels that is enough time for Bateman acclimatise and build combinations with the squad remains to be seen. One option is for him to be eased into proceedings off the bench; either way, the English international said he was keen to reignite his NRL career.
“I’m pretty much ready,” Bateman said.
“I’ve been doing my own pre-season programs, I’ve been keeping to programs sent off Pete [Tigers’ head of high performance Peter Moussa].
“So yeah, I’ve kept up to it. I’m keen to get going.
“I’ve been training quite a lot by myself, but obviously you can’t do the team stuff and stuff like that.
“I’m looking forward to getting into it.”
Bateman said he had been in constant touch with Sheens to familiarise himself with the Tigers’ playing style.
John Bateman has belatedly arrived in Australia.Credit:Getty
“He has been giving me some clips and stuff, I’ve obviously been looking through them,” Bateman told the club’s website.
“Some of the plays, so week in, week out, I’m just trying to keep up with it. I’ve been doing my training and the last couple of weeks there’s been a game and I’ve been able to watch that as well.
“It’s good from that end.”
Canberra released Bateman from the final year of his contract at the end of 2020, allowing him to rejoin Wigan and reunite with family in England after a COVID-enforced separation.
However, the 29-year-old said he had unfinished business in the NRL.
“I would say so. COVID [impacted], I had to go back because I hadn’t seen my family for a year,” he said.
“We are looking forward to getting back into it. I love the style the NRL is and I’m looking forward to competing week in and week out; that’s what it’s all about for me.
“I’m looking forward to meeting everyone, to be fair.
“I don’t know anyone here, it’s like the first day and I’ll be back in on Monday to meet the boys.
“We’ve got some great signings. We want to put in some good performances.”
Bateman said he was impressed after touring the club’s new facilities and said he was looking forward to playing at Leichhardt Oval, the venue for the Titans clash, for the first time.
“It’s similar [to English venues], I like the close-knit stadiums where it feels like the fans are on top of you and get behind you,” he said.
“It should be good.
“It was a good result [beating Canberra in the last trial] and makes you want to carry that on moving forward.
“They have obviously worked hard in pre-season and it’s good to do that in pre-season games, but it’s all about round one now.”
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