John Bateman caught up in Wests Tigers jersey storm

James Gordon
John Bateman for England

Picture by Paul Currie/

England back-rower John Bateman was forced to face awkward questions about a Wests Tigers kit gaffe ahead of the 2023 Anzac round.

Bateman and NRLW player Ruby-Jean Kennard were used to launch Wests’ special commemorative jersey for the round later this month at Holsworthy Army Barracks.

But eagle-eyed fans spotted that the photo used in the jersey was actually a stock image of American soldiers.

That resulted in the club pulling the shirt from sale, but it was the players who were left to face the music from the media.

When asked if he knew about the image, Bateman said: “Obviously not mate. I’m not from here. I didn’t realise or dig deep into it myself.

“The club realised they’d made a mistake and they’re pulling the shirt and obviously it’ll be getting sorted.”

Tigers forced to pull commemorative shirt

It was reported that 500 of the shirts were available to buy online from the Tigers store, with around 60 having been purchased before they were removed from sale.

A new design is now in the works ahead of the Round 8 fixtures, where Wests take on Manly Sea Eagles at Campbelltown Stadium.

A club statement read: “Wests Tigers remain as committed as ever to making this year’s ANZAC Round match in Round 8 against Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles a respectful and special occasion.

“The Commemorative Jersey to be worn by our players for this match has been criticised because an image on the jersey does not accurately depict Australian or New Zealand troops.

“As a club Wests Tigers is deeply sorry if the use of this image has in any way offended anyone.  This was never our intention, and we are taking steps to rectify this.

“We have taken on board feedback from our members and fans, and we will be redesigning our 2023 Commemorative Jersey, immediately.

“Wests Tigers deeply regret any offence the use of this stock image may have caused and remains completely committed to honouring and respecting all those servicemen and women who have, and who continue, to serve.”

Bateman returned to the NRL with Wests in the off-season, joining from Wigan. Kennard, 19, is also a new signing for the Tigers – making the move from Parramatta.

On the field, the NRL side have had a turbulent start to the season, losing all five of their opening matches and conceding 132 points in the process.

The traditional ANZAC day clash is between St George-Illawarra Dragons and Sydney Roosters, who have met every year since 2002. Melbourne Storm and New Zealand Warriors will also meet on Tuesday April 25.

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