Wigan second row John Bateman says he would love to have George Williams back at the Warriors, but says first and foremost, he just wants his former team-mate to be happy wherever he is.
Williams has been the subject of a war of words in the NRL, with the Raiders saying they were ‘granting’ him an immediate early release from his contract. Williams has since come out and said he had asked for an early release at the end of the season, but was “kicked out the door” without warning.
Bateman, who had his own fallout to deal with when he left Canberra, showed his support for Williams on Twitter, and told Sky Sports’ Golden Point Podcast this week that while he would love to see the half-back return to the DW Stadium, Williams’ happiness is the priority.
“I hope so, but I suppose that’s up to George,” Bateman said of a potential return. “He’ll have his reasons for ‘yeah’ and his reasons for ‘no’, like anyone else, and I’m sure there are plenty of clubs out there that want him.
“I want him to come here, no doubt about it. I’m pretty sure any other club would say the same.
“You want him to be happy wherever he is. He’s my mate first of all. I hope he’s happy wherever he goes.”
Bateman added that he is confident Williams will tell his story when the time is right.
“You think a club at that level would probably put their arm around someone and say: ‘Right we’ll get the best out of you for the rest of the season, we’ll take that, and if you want to go after that then so be it’,” he said.
“I get it, it’s a business and I get that they want to sort it out. But going from saying no altogether: ‘We’re not releasing you at all’ to: ‘Right, you’re gone’…
“It’s a weird situation. No one knows the ins and outs aside from George. I’m sure George will come out and say his bit when stuff’s sorted and when it’s the time and place.
“It’s a pretty big story and I think everyone’s pretty interested to hear George’s side to be fair, I’m sure all of that will come out.”
FALSE. I text to explain my mental well-being to the welfare manager? I asked for a release weeks ago for the end of the season… Not once did I ask for a immediate release but Instead of supporting me the club kicked me out the door.
Plus I’ve not even signed the release 🤔 https://t.co/CeXBFkXWsA
Bateman says he has spoken to Williams and cheekily offered help with the move.
“I spoke to him last week just to see how he was,” said Bateman. “I’ve been in the exact same situation as him – probably a bit better for me because I didn’t get kicked out on the spot.
“I spoke to him about it. I told him if he needs a removal number I’ll send it over to him. He’s probably going to sell his stuff on Facebook! I just touched base to see how he is.”
Bateman opted out of the last year of his three-year contract with the Raiders in order to return to Super League and also to be closer to his family, prompting fans of the club to speculate about his ability and his character.
The second rower, who earned a place in the prestigious Dally M team of the year at the end of his first season, says he was able to ignore the opinions of the small section of supporters who voiced negative opinions.
“I thought I was treated pretty well at first,” he said. “I’ve seen English people in my team get some stick and I tended to come out the other side. I got on with quite a few people and I got quite a lot of love back.
“But when it unravelled over the second year into the contract negotiation, it probably changed a little bit, the media side of it and stuff.
“The Canberra fans were always good to me, but I suppose there’s always a small minority who think they know best and think they know what they’re on about, so you just leave them to it.
“I thought I got on with quite a lot of Australians so it was good.”
Bateman says his relationship with Raiders coach ‘Sticky’ Ricky Stuart is on good terms after the fractured end to his time in Canberra.
“He’s an emotional person is Sticky, and so am I in myself. He lives in the moment and so do I, if I’m really honest,” he said.
“We had a chat towards the end of last year when I was leaving and just said there are no hard feelings.
“He brought the best out in me, there’s no doubt about that. He pushed me and tested me to the point where I was the best I had been playing-wise. I can’t thank him enough for that.”
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