Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Photo by Wests Tigers Media
John Bateman is set to make his NRL return with the Wests Tigers and fans are greatly anticipating his arrival.
The Tigers faithful were already looking forward to seeing Bateman run out in the orange and black but their hopes that he will have a positive impact have been heightened with the club’s poor start to the season.
After playing two games the Tigers are yet to get a win and currently sit in last place on the ladder which is where they ended up in 2022.
Bateman will make his debut for the Tigers in their clash with the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs at Belmore Oval this afternoon but the second-rower’s star power may not be enough to get Tim Sheens’ side out of their current predicament.
While it was initially believed that Bateman was set to miss the start of this season due to his recent arrival in Australia following possible VISA complications, reports started to emerge that he was sitting out due to an ankle injury which the Tigers have not confirmed.
Bateman returned to Super League in 2021 with the Wigan Warriors following a stint in the NRL at the Raiders and during his time back in England Bateman sustained multiple injuries that saw him miss game time including an ankle issue and broken ribs.
The injury cloud hovering over Bateman is something that most Tigers fans would be none the wiser about as said injuries occurred while he was playing in Super League.
If the rumour that his ankle was re-injured during the preseason is true then that should be cause for serious concern amongst Tigers fans as despite his brilliant ability the 29-year-old could find himself back of the shelf if his recent history with injury impacts him back in the NRL.
Against the Bulldogs Bateman will be partnered with Asu Kepaoa who he will likely replace once other Tigers recruit Isaiah Papali’i returns from suspension.
Fans will be praying that Papali’i can consistently display the form he showed at Parramatta once he returns which should certainly take the pressure off of Bateman and reduce the likelihood of him being injured.
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