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Wests Tigers recruit John Bateman says he’s found what's been “missing” in his life after ending a two-year NRL hiatus last week.  

Despite the challenges that came with leaving home and saying goodbye to his 13-year-old daughter for the second time in his career, the former Wigan Warrior knew he had unfinished business in the NRL.

With a relentless work ethic and a hard-edge attacking game on show in his club debut against the Bulldogs, the 29-year-old Englishmen said the speed and intensity of the NRL is what brings out his best as a rugby league player.

“Playing in the Super League I felt like something was missing for myself and it was probably missing the contest back here and the competition of the NRL,” Bateman told the media at training.

“I love a competition, that’s what I pride myself on. I love a contest and I don’t like taking a backwards step.

“I see everything as a contest on the field, you need to win your battles and if everyone out on the field does that I think we’ll win the game.

Bateman makes an immediate impact

“That’s what we’re looking to do, we are looking to win the battle in certain areas of the field. Moving forward, if we come together, we can win the game.”

Having tasted on-field success – winning a premiership with Wigan in 2016 and 2018 before going mightily close with the Green Machine in 2019 – Bateman knows what it takes to win football games and that he doesn't like the feeling that comes with losing.

However, returning to the NRL a Wests Tiger, he's well aware of the difficult challenge that lies ahead if he's to help lead a new-look Tim Sheens’ outfit to see past the final game of the regular season for the first time since 2011.

“I just hate losing to be fair. I’m not a good loser, I never have been. I do whatever I can do to win,” Bateman said.

“I’ve got an older brother and when we were younger, me and him, we were just always trying to win. It probably stems from that a little bit.

“It’s frustrating to hear what’s been done before because we’re trying to look to the future. The club’s a massive club, we need to go out there and represent it the best we can. Obviously the first few games we haven’t done that so it’s down to it's up to us now to do that.”

John Bateman arrives at Wests Tigers

Bateman impressed in his first game for the club on Sunday with a near try having grubbered through the line, and will line up alongside fellow big name recruit Isaiah Papali'i for the first time in the back row this Friday against the Storm.

Papali’i said Bateman’s effort on the field is what has his side confident they can break their duck against the Storm on Friday night.

"It is inspiring for us. He just never backs down from anyone and he’s always competing and aggressive in anything he’s involved with whether it's a tackle in defence or a grubber in attack," Papali'i told the media.

"I don’t think anyone’s as unorthodox as he is, obviously when he sees something he goes for it and I think the coaches back any of us to do what’s best for the team.

"You can definitely see he’s giving more than 100 per cent out there."

Acknowledgement of Country

Wests Tigers respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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