WITH each passing game that John Bateman plays for Wigan, the £70,000 they paid for him looks an absolute steal.

Not only has he made himself indispensable in Shaun Wane's side, he could well be involved in England's Four Nations campaign later this year.

Tomorrow the highly-regarded second-rower will return to Odsal with Wigan for the first time since he was sold by the Bulls last November.

The former Dudley Hill amateur, Bradford born and bred, said: "I've been thinking about it and it will be weird going back to Odsal for the first time and walking into the away dressing room. But I'm looking forward to it.

"I was probably about ten or 11 when I started watching the Bulls. I always look out for their results and all my family live in Bradford, so I've been to watch the Bulls a few times this year.

"I'm back regularly to see my daughter Millie and my mum. I met up with Elliott Whitehead at the recent Bulls-Catalan game and a few of the other lads.

"It will be a bit weird running out and seeing my mum in the crowd at Odsal. The last time I did that was as a Bradford player – but it's just one of those things.

"I'll be wearing a Wigan jersey and will give my all for Wigan to try and beat Bradford this weekend."

Bateman, 21, believes Bulls coach Jimmy Lowes will return the club to the top flight at the first attempt next season.

He is encouraged by the number of home-grown prospects at the club such as Alex Mellor, Adam O'Brien, Nathan Conroy, Oliver Roberts, Sam Bates, Adam Brook and Sam Wood.

Bateman said: "I watched Jimmy play when I was younger and the Bulls were winning trophies and he was a great player.

"I think he will be good for them in terms of giving them a bit of structure and telling them how it is.

"What you see is what you get with Jimmy and as players that's what you need because it gets the best out of you.

"I think they will bounce straight back up next year. When I was there last year, a lot of the young lads were coming into the first team. I have known them for years and pretty much grown up with them.

"Bradford have got a good set of young players and I think next year they will dig deep and show what they're capable of."

Bateman faced the Bulls on Easter Monday and was among the scorers as Wigan inflicted a club-record 84-6 defeat on his home-town club.

He admits seeing Bradford relegated last weekend filled him with sorrow.

"It's pretty sad but it's just one of those things and I play for Wigan now," he said.

"At the beginning of the year, I didn't think I'd play every game but I've done that. It has been a good move for me and I have really enjoyed it.

"We've got a big end to the season coming up and we need to kick on now and get to the Grand Final.

"Getting picked in England's train-on squad recently was great but to be part of the Four Nations squad would be amazing."