NRL Rd 3 - Bulldogs v Wests Tigers
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: John Bateman of the Wests Tigers catches a pass during the round three NRL match between Canterbury Bulldogs and Wests Tigers at Belmore Sports Ground on March 19, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

John Bateman is adamant he isn't carrying an injury as he looks to spark the Wests Tigers to their first win of the season.

The former Raider rejoined the NRL this season after returning to England for two years with the Wigan Warriors, reuniting with his daughter after COVID created a travelling ban in 2020.

After a long-winded visa issue, the back-rower finally touched down in Australia just over a week prior to the Wests Tigers' first match of the season, a 22-10 loss to the Gold Coast Titans at Leichhardt Oval.

Sitting out their second loss, Bateman was a late inclusion to the club's starting side for the weekend's clash against Canterbury, however despite nearly crossing the stripe through individual brilliance, his impact mattered little as they succumbed to their third consecutive loss.

Bateman ran 79 metres and completed 33 tackles in his 66-minute stint, a solid first hit-out, but certainly not the performances we're used to from the 29-year-old.

Question marks began being raised over whether Bateman was harbouring a secret injury, and was rushed back for the Round 3 encounter, however the edge forward shot down concerns as quickly as they arose.

"Quite a lot of people have been saying 'he's injured blah, blah, blah' but I think those people have never done a pre-season," Bateman toldĀ AAP.

"A three-week pre-season isn't good for anyone.

"If I'd have played the first week and got injured then everyone would have been saying 'why did you play so early?'

"It's pretty hard. Different people play differently. I play a lot differently to people so it's about understanding people. That's the hard thing.

"I've just been acclimatising and getting used to it. I don't know any of the boys or the plays. I was still a bit scratchy, understanding what we are doing."

A former Dally M Second-Rower of the Year recipient, Bateman only shook hands with the majority of his teammates for the first time less than a month ago.

He's learning the plays on the fly, and despite walking in as an immediate leader of the side, the back-rower knows he has to earn his stripes first, and that it won't be a luxury ride to the finals.

"The opportunity for the Wests Tigers to bring me out here motivated me and I feel like I play my best rugby out here," Bateman continued.

"The game probably suits me a little bit more.

"I liked what Sheensy was talking about with what he wanted to build.

"When you get here you realise how big the club is, and we need to go places."

Bateman has signed a four-year deal with the Wests Tigers, and will be hoping to be a part of the side that breaks a finals dry spell dating back to 2011.

1 COMMENT

  1. You’d have to think that coming fresh from a northern hemisphere winter to 30C+ days in Australia, he will actually need some time to acclimatize.

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