Decisions made on John Bateman and Oliver Gildart ahead of opening NRL round

Josh McAllister
John Bateman, Oliver Gildart. PA

Wests Tigers and the Dolphins have both made decisions on respective players John Bateman and Oliver Gildart ahead of the opening NRL round. 

Bateman, 29, only arrived in Australia earlier last week to start his four-year deal with the Wests Tigers.

His departure from Wigan was announced on Boxing Day, but he was unavailable to immediately link up with his new team due to visa delays.

The England international back-rower has not been included in Tim Sheens’ squad to take on the Gold Coast Titans on Sunday, March 25.

Instead, new recruit Isaiah Papali’i and 22-year-old Shawn Blore have been named at starting back-row for the Tigers. The fixture will be live on Watch NRL from 7am.

Likewise, fellow England international Oliver Gildart has not been named in Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins squad to take on Sydney Roosters on Sunday.

Instead, the 73-year-old veteran coach has opted for centres Euan Aitken and Brenko Lee. Jamayne Isaako and Tesi Niu have been named on the wings.

Gildart, 26, joined the Dolphins on a one-year deal during the off-season from Wests Tigers.

Dolphins’ first-ever NRL game will be live on Sky Sports from 5am.

More on John Bateman

Bateman returns to the NRL for his second stint, having enjoyed two years in the capital with Canberra Raiders from 2019 to 2020.

He started in the 2019 NRL Grand Final, going on to lose 14-8 to Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium.

The back-rower admits the pandemic forced his hand to return home, where he reunited with Wigan on a four-year contract.

“Covid dealt my hand really in going back. I hadn’t seen my family for over a year,” Bateman told Wests Tigers last week.

“I think everyone at the time just wanted to be around their loved ones and that was myself included. Now I’m really looking forward to getting back into it.”

His second stint with the Warriors in Super League was cut short with two-years remaining on his deal to return to the NRL.

“It has been a while. It went from sorting out the contract and stuff like that to sorting out my visa. But it’s good to be here,” Bateman continued.

“I’m really looking forward to getting going. I’ve been training quite a bit by myself, but you can’t do certain stuff and team stuff.

“I’ve been doing my own pre-season and keeping up with programmes that have been sent to me. 

“Tim Sheens has been sending me clips and stuff like that with plays. I’ve been keeping my eye on that and week in, week out just trying to keep on top of it and what they’ve been doing in training. The last couple of weeks they’ve had games, so I’ve been able to watch them too.”

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