John Bateman has agreed an NRL move at the end of the Super League season but will return to Wigan Warriors as a marquee player when he ends his spell in Australia.
Canberra Raiders are expected to confirm the signing of the England second row on a two-year deal with the option of a third.
Wigan received a significant transfer fee for the 24-year-old and reached an agreement for him to return to the Super League club.
Bateman said: "This has been an incredibly tough decision for me to make as I have enjoyed my time at Wigan so much but, ultimately, I have always had the desire to play in the NRL at some point in my career so this opportunity was something I didn't want to turn down.
"Wigan did all they could, in my opinion, to keep me here but I was always upfront with them regarding my motivation to play in a different competition.
"Although I'm sad to be leaving the Warriors, it's great to know I'll be returning here in a couple of years. I'd like to thank both [Wigan chairman] Ian Lenagan and [rugby director] Kris Radlinski for offering me the opportunity to return to the club.
"My attention now is solely on helping Wigan as much as possible in the remainder of the Super League season and to repay the Wigan fans for their support."
Bateman, who has signed a two-year contract with an option for a third year with a NRL side for an undisclosed fee, has also agreed a three-year deal to become Wigan’s marquee player when he returns to the Betfred Super League. pic.twitter.com/XjIxby5o6v— Wigan Warriors (@WiganWarriorsRL) August 8, 2018
Lenagan said: "John was adamant that he wanted to try his hand in the NRL and, once it became clear to us that he couldn't be persuaded, we wanted to ensure that the club gained the best deal in these set of circumstances. I believe we have done so.
"Despite John's experience, he is still only 24 years old and, throughout our discussions, he has made it clear to us that he is determined to return to Wigan in the future. He will do so as a better player then, entering the peak years of his career, so we will look forward to welcoming him back to the club."
Bateman's team-mate Ryan Sutton signed a deal with the Raiders back in May.
14 de diciembre 2018
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