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Prized Bradford Bulls asset John Bateman in shock defection to Wigan
Prized asset John Bateman has been sold to Wigan for an undisclosed fee in a shock move after handing in a transfer request.
The stunning exit comes after Bulls chairman Ryan Whitcut claimed that the 20-year-old had requested to leave the club on numerous occasions in the past two years.
Bateman’s departure is another significant blow to the Bulls following the acrimonious exit of fellow homegrown second-rower Elliott Whitehead earlier this year.
It was believed that Huddersfield and Salford had also been interested in acquiring the services of Bradford-born Bateman, who signed a long-term contract with the Bulls only last year.
Bateman said: “I am grateful to Wigan for giving me the opportunity to play at such a successful club and I am looking forward to this new challenge in my career.
"I would like to thank everyone at Bradford for allowing me this opportunity and hope I can play my part in winning silverware with the Warriors.”
The Bulls are believed to have secured a six-figure fee for Bateman and Whitcut said: “On a number of occasions over the past two years, John had put in the request to be transferred from the Bulls.
"The new board and I agree that unless a player wants to be here 100 per cent that player may have an unsettling affect on the squad and coaching staff around them.
“The agreed fee is an undisclosed sum but will benefit the squad in the long run and allow head coach Francis Cummins to add to the dynamics of the group if he feels he needs to.
“Pre-season starts on Monday and it is important that the players have the confidence that those around them are 100 per cent behind the cause. We wish John all the best for the future.”
Bateman has signed a three-year deal with the Super League champions with the option for a further year.
Warriors coach Shaun Wane said: “I'm pleased to have acquired John, especially when he has attracted so much interest from other Super League clubs.
"He is a player that I rate very highly. I also see lots of areas where he will improve. As he matures with us, he will be a good asset in our quest to continually challenge for honours."
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