The Wests Tigers have made an inquiry with Wigan about the prospect of bringing 2019 Dally M Backrower of the Year John Bateman back to the NRL in 2023.
In a move unrelated to Isaiah Papali’i having second thoughts about switching from Parramatta to Concord next year, Tigers director of football Tim Sheens has confirmed the club has made the approach.
The catch is going to be Bateman is under contract with Wigan until at least the end of 2024 and for now the Warriors have blocked the Tigers move.
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Bateman was one of the standout backrowers in the NRL the year the Canberra Raiders made the grand final in 2019 before his tenure in the national capital soured over a contract stalemate with the Green Machine.
Bateman then returned home to the UK at the end of the 2020 NRL season after inking a four-year deal with Wigan through until the end of 2024.
The Raiders were forced to pay a $250,000 transfer fee to Wigan to bring Bateman to the NRL the first time around but the one bonus with transfer fees to English clubs is they aren’t included in the NRL clubs salary cap.
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The Bateman approach is creative thinking from Sheens trying to look outside the square and devise recruitment ploys aimed at overhauling the Wests Tigers roster.
The Tigers have made some recruitment moves this week by re-signing Brent Naden, Asu Kepoa and Starford To’a but the real recruitment space where they need to get busy is the re-signing of Adam Doueihi.
Doueihi is easily the Tigers best player, a local junior and the type of leader the Wests Tigers need to build the club around.
With Sheens and Benji Marshall now having control of the steering wheel at least it won’t be left to dithering management types to make another misguided mistake.
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The issue with Doueihi is he’s going to be a free agent as of November 1 and you can guarantee rival clubs are going to be getting the queue to try and convince the five-eighth to switch allegiances.
The Tigers need to sharpen their pencil and try and get a long-term deal done now prior to the stronger clubs being able to table a deal.
The Melbourne Storm have already had one crack at getting Doueihi on loan for the remainder of this year and with uncertainty surrounding the future of Cameron Munster the Tigers five-eighth would make an ideal replacement.