Wigan Warriors have re-signed England back rower John Bateman from Canberra Raiders on a four-year deal from 2021.
Bateman will return to the DW Stadium after two seasons in the NRL, where he was named Dally M second rower of year in 2019.
His new Wigan contract has the option of a fifth season and ends weeks of speculation about his future after it emerged that he would be leaving the Raiders.
Bateman 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 won two Grand Finals during his previous spell with the Warriors and executive director Kris Radlinski says the club is “thrilled” to secure his return.
Radlinski said: “John is one of the best players in the world. He has the respect of players and coaches in both hemispheres and is a natural born competitor and leader.
“We’ve been extremely proud to see him take the NRL by storm in 2019 and we’ve always looked forward to welcoming him back to Wigan when the opportunity presented itself. We had an agreement with him that, should he come back to the UK Super League, then we would have first option on him.
“As he’s entering the prime years of his playing career, I think it’s a real coup for the Betfred Super League to have a player of his calibre return to the competition.
“In what are incredibly challenging times we need to be sensitive to the fact that the financial impact of the coronavirus will inevitably lead to a restructuring of the squad and the club.
“John’s arrival next season has been part of that careful squad financial planning. We’re delighted that the continuing overwhelming assistance and messages of support from Wigan fans has made that process more tolerable than it might have been. The reality is that like many other industries we will be making difficult financial decisions for some time to come, as will all clubs.
“We’re in no doubt that this investment in John, as someone who knows exactly what it means to represent our jersey, will continue to drive the club forwards and bring our famously loyal supporters the excitement they’ve earned, as we all head into what will be a crucial period for the sport.
“John is now completely focused on getting fit and returning to the Raiders squad and finishing off his adventure in Australia on the highest note possible.”