JOHN Bateman is coming back to Super League with Wigan – and to his daughter.
The England star was roundly criticised for saying no to a new deal with NRL side Canberra Raiders, with many claiming he was only doing it for the money.
But he is in fact more likely to be taking a pay cut to return to England on a four-year contract with his former club, so he can be close to Millie.
“I’m very happy to be returning to Wigan on a long-term contract,” said the 26-year-old, who has not played this season because of a shoulder injury.
“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 is leaving the Raiders after they got ‘sick of waiting’ for an answer on his future.
Canterbury Bulldogs led the chase down under, with a deal worth £390,000-a-year thought to be being asked for.
But home is where the heart is and Wigan were the only Super League outfit in the running after SunSport was told by a number of other big clubs they would either not meet the wage demands or can fit him under their salary cap.
Canberra boss Ricky Stuart blasted the role of agent Isaac Moses, saying: “We got sick of waiting. We knew what was going to happen, so we got sick of a waiting.
“John’s a really big part of the squad and is a world class player, so to lose him really disappoints me.
“As a club, we work so hard to build a strong roster then you get players like John pulled out of it in the way he has, it’s really disappointed me.”
But Wigan’s executive director Kris Radlinski could not play down the size of the signing.
He said: “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.
“As he’s entering the prime years of his playing career, I think it’s a real coup for the Super League to have a player of his calibre return to the competition.”