Bradford Bulls insist Bateman exit was not due to financial fears (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford Bulls insist John Bateman exit was not due to financial fears
Francis Cummins last night revealed the Bulls sold prized asset John Bateman because his heart was no longer at the club – and not because they needed the cash.
The home-grown back-rower has joined Super League champions Wigan on a three-year deal with the option for a further year after making it clear he wanted out at Bradford.
The fee for Bateman, who was also attracting interest from Salford and Huddersfield, is undisclosed but is believed to be approaching six figures.
Bradford-born Bateman signed a new contract until the end of 2015 only last October but has grown increasingly disillusioned with the club he grew up supporting during recent months.
Cummins said the 20-year-old made his feelings known after players and staff were paid late midway through the season when Omar Khan was at the helm.
Unlike the acrimonious departure of Elliott Whitehead, who shares the same agent as Bateman in Andy Clarke, Cummins said he never fell out with the former England Academy captain.
The Bulls coach said: “We didn’t need to sell John but you would rather have people who want to play for each other and for the team.
“If a player’s heart is not in it, then that will show throughout the course of the season.
“While we have lost a good player – and what we potentially think he could be – there comes a point when if someone doesn’t want to be here then he doesn’t want to be here.
“The only reasons that I’ve been given from John when we sat down was that he wasn’t paid on time and that he was sick of worrying about payments.
“I asked him if there were any issues from the football side and he said no, so we carried on.
“My relationship with John has been very good but this has been going on for a while now, probably since July, so I gave the board a valuation of what I felt John was worth and it was then down to them to make a decision.
“There have been some rumours knocking about that we needed to sell players, which isn’t the case. But like I said, I don’t want a player hanging around if he doesn’t want to be here.”
Bateman enjoyed a fine 2012 campaign, and captained England’s Academy side on their tour of Australia, but he underwent a shoulder reconstruction during the close-season.
He made a try-scoring return to action against Hull KR in March but further injury problems meant he racked up just 12 Super League appearances in 2013.
Cummins said he recruited Samoa international Frank Winterstein, who may require an operation on the pectoral injury sustained against New Zealand last weekend, with Bateman’s departure in mind.
The Bulls coach believes other clubs have seen Bradford as “easy prey” following the recent change of ownership at Odsal.
Bulls chairman Ryan Whitcut claimed Bateman had asked to leave “on a number of occasions over the past two years” and said the back- row was an area in which the club was well covered.
Bateman himself, who may now relocate across the Pennines, 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.”
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