ENGLAND international and former Bradford Bulls star John Bateman will return to Wigan next season after signing a four-year deal.

The 26-year-old forward left the Warriors two years ago to head to Australia and join Canberra Raiders, where he was a huge hit during his first season in the NRL in 2019.

But he was given permission by the Raiders to be released from the final year of his contract earlier this week and has now rejoined Wigan.

Bateman, currently nursing a shoulder injury, said: “I’m very happy to be returning to Wigan on a long-term contract.

“On a personal level, some of the best times of my life have been in a Wigan shirt and I can’t wait to return, to play and make some more memories.

“It’s been a tough decision but to be back to Wigan, to be at home with my little girl, my mum and the rest of my family is something I can’t wait to experience once again.

“I still have plenty of unfinished business with the Raiders and my focus now is to get myself back on the pitch as soon as possible and put myself in the frame for selection.”

Bateman’s departure from Canberra means he leaves behind fellow Bradfordian Elliott Whitehead.

Canberra’s chief executive Don Furner said: “The club made the difficult decision to allow John to pursue other long-term options and as a result, 2020 will be his final season with the Raiders.

“We’re looking forward to John returning from his shoulder injury and finishing his time by helping us make the semi-finals again.

“John was fantastic in 2019, featuring in our first Grand Final appearance since 1994 and winning the Dally M for second rower of the year.”