John Bateman will be back in Super League next year after signing a long-term deal to rejoin Wigan Warriors.

The England international departed Wigan after helping them to Grand Final glory over Warrington Wolves in 2018, opting to continue his career in the NRL as he moved to Canberra Raiders.

Bateman impressed in his debut season Down Under too, becoming a key part of a Raiders squad that lost to Sydney Roosters in the Grand Final as he was named Dally M Second Rower of the Year.

A shoulder injury has prevented him from playing so far this season and Canberra recently confirmed they had agreed to release the 26-year-old from the final year of his contract.

While linked with Canterbury Bulldogs, Bateman is instead heading back to his homeland in 2021. Wigan confirmed his return on Friday, the forward signing a four-year deal with a further option for a fifth season.

"I'm very happy to be returning to Wigan on a long-term contract," Bateman said. 

"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."

Wigan had first refusal on Bateman if he decided to move back to Super League - an option they were delighted to take up to secure "one of the best players in the world", according to executive director Kris Radlinski.

"Wigan are thrilled to be bringing John back to the DW Stadium," 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 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 Super League to have a player of his calibre return to the competition."

Former Australia international Israel Folau has signed a new one-year deal with Catalans Dragons.

Folau made a controversial move to Catalans in January after his Rugby Australia contract was terminated for a "high-level breach", the 31-year-old having posted hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" on Instagram.

The centre, who scored a try on his Super League debut, attracted interest from the NRL and Top 14 but has decided to remain at the Gilbert Brutus Stadium.

Folau said: "Me and my family are very excited to stay on at the club for season 2021.

"We're very grateful for the opportunity that Bernard Guasch [Catalans chairman] and the Dragons have given me. I'm looking forward to working hard and achieving great success on the field with my team-mates and this great club."

Guasch expressed his delight that Folau wants to repay the faith the Perpignan-based club have shown in him.

"His decision to stay at the club for one more season honours him. Once the media storm that followed his signing passed, and after only three Super League appearances, he received many requests and became a highly demanded player," he said.

"But he feels gratitude for the club.  He shown he is a respectful player since he arrived at the club. He will be 32 years old at the end of his new contract and we will then think about the rest of his career."

There has been no Super League action since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the season is due to resume on August 2.

Super League will return for a shortened season on August 2, though games will be played behind closed doors at a small group of neutral venues.

No matches have been played in the competition since March 15 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, with teams having played between four and seven games in the season.

There will be a further 15 rounds of fixtures - seven less than initially planned - with the top four heading into semi-finals ahead of Grand Final that it is hoped will take place in late November. The 2021 season will consequently start later than the traditional opening weekend of February.

Hull KR will take on Toronto Wolfpack in the first game following a 140-day hiatus, with St Helens against Catalans Dragons following before Huddersfield Giants meet Leeds Rhinos. All three fixtures will take place at the same, as yet unconfirmed, venue.

All other clubs will return to action the following weekend.

Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone said: "We are in the final stages of confirming where the games will be played, and we continue to work closely with [rights holders] Sky Sports to deliver the best possible broadcast schedule for our fans. Further details of this will be confirmed over the coming weeks.

"Above all we know that fans want to get back into grounds to support their teams. We will continue to follow government advice and work alongside the RFL [Rugby Football League], clinical advisors and ground safety personnel to ensure that when that time comes, Super League is ready to welcome back its fans at the first opportunity.

"Whilst the recent government announcements underline increasing optimism, the pandemic remains unpredictable. Our final fixture schedule needs to respond to opportunities that will unfold over the coming weeks and accordingly, full details of fixtures, venues and season structure will be confirmed as they become known.

"Finally, I would like to thank the fans and players for their patience, positivity and desire to see Super League back up and running post-COVID-19."

St Helens have confirmed they have reached an agreement for James Graham to return to the club when the Super League season resumes.

Graham had announced on Monday he was to return to his boyhood club, having left them to move to the NRL in 2012 after making over 200 appearances for Saints.

He contested two NRL Grand Finals with Canterbury Bulldogs, losing both, before a move to St. George-Illawarra Dragons ahead of the 2018 season.

However, his time with the Dragons is poised to come to an end.

"Given the recent media speculation and interviews conducted in Australia, St. Helens R.F.C. can confirm it has reached an agreement with James Graham to return to his boyhood club for the remainder of the 2020 Betfred Super League season," a St Helens statement read.

"The club hopes to have Graham in the squad in time for the resumption of the 2020 season, however this move is subject to formal paperwork being completed.

"A further announcement will be made in due course."

St George Illawarra Dragons are considering James Graham's release request as the Englishman eyes a return to St Helens in the Super League.

Graham's career in the NRL could be over, with the English prop seeking an immediate move back to his homeland via former club St Helens.

The 34-year-old, who is in the last season of his three-year Dragons contract, left St Helens for Canterbury Bulldogs in 2012 before joining St George in 2018.

"St George Illawarra have been involved in discussions with Dragons forward James Graham and his management regarding an opportunity for him to return to the English Super League with immediate effect," the Dragons said in a statement on Thursday.

"The Dragons will consider this option for Graham on the merit a replacement player is secured by the club prior to his release.

"The Dragons will be making no further comment regarding Graham at this stage."

Graham has made five appearances for the struggling Dragons this season, tallying 154 tackles and boasting a 95.4 per cent efficiency.

The Dragons are third from bottom in the coronavirus-hit competition after five rounds in Australia.

"The idea of becoming a coach came to me during my last years as a player."

Massimo Carrera enjoyed a successful career as a defender, winning Serie A, Champions League, UEFA Cup, Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana titles with Juventus in the 1990s.

Carrera, who earned a move to Juventus from Bari in 1991 before leaving Turin five years later, also went on to captain Atalanta before eventually retiring in 2008.

The 56-year-old now finds himself in charge of Greek giants AEK Athens.

He had his first taste of coaching, albeit briefly, at Juventus in 2012 after head coach Antonio Conte was handed a 10-month ban – later reduced to four months – for failing to report match-fixing.

Carrera, who played alongside Conte in Turin before reuniting with his former team-mate as technical director in 2011, stepped into the caretaker role and claimed the Supercoppa Italiana against Napoli.

"Being part of Juventus' staff and then even stepping in during that period was an unexpected and extraordinary experience for me," Carrera told Stats Perform News.

"I remember the first Supercoppa match against Napoli which we won [4-2 after extra time in Beijing]. I was very tense during the week leading up to the final but at the beginning of the match it was as if I had been training for years."

Despite being six years Conte's senior, Carrera soaked up the Italian's methods and formed a strong bond, which led to the pair teaming up again – this time with Italy.

Carrera was part of Conte's Azzurri staff as an assistant for Euro 2016. After Italy lost to Germany in the quarter-finals, Conte joined Premier League powerhouse Chelsea. All of his assistants followed to London, except one – trusted lieutenant Carrera joined Spartak Moscow as Dmitri Alenichev's assistant coach.

Having arrived in July, Carrera quickly went from assistant to caretaker manager and then permanent coach on a two-year deal the following month after Alenichev resigned.

"After Conte's return I resumed my role as assistant and during the European Championship, there was the opportunity to go to Spartak Moscow as Alenichev wanted me as assistant," Carrera said. "Driven by the fact that Conte, who was about to move to Chelsea, could not take all the staff with him, I accepted and I left for Moscow."

Carrera's decision to swap Italy for Moscow proved to be a wise one for coach and club after ending Spartak's 16-year wait for Russian Premier League glory.

No other Spartak coach managed a better start – Carrera's men collecting 28 of 36 points from the first 12 matches under the Italian – as they claimed their first league crown since 2001 ahead of rivals CSKA Moscow.

"It was an extraordinary experience for me. I remember when I became Spartak Moscow head coach, the situation was not easy and there was a lot of pressure," he continued. "The team hadn't won a league in 16 years and fans were upset.  We worked hard to do our best and it was a triumph because we were at the top of the standings from the first day of the championship."

The situation, though, turned sour as he was sacked by Spartak in October 2018 after finishing third the previous season, despite being a popular figure among fans.

"I was really sad about that [leaving Spartak] because I hadn't be able to complete my job despite being one point behind the runner-up team," Carrera added.

Fast forward to 2020 and Carrera is coaching one of Greece's biggest teams – 12-time Super League champions AEK.

AEK appointed Carrera in December last year following a sabbatical, replacing Nikolaos Kostenoglou in Athens.

The coronavirus pandemic halted Carrera's work in March but AEK have made an unbeaten start since returning earlier this month – drawing at home to rivals Panathinaikos and defeating OFI 2-0 on Sunday to stay second in the table, 17 points behind leaders Olympiacos and two clear of PAOK in the race for Champions League qualification in the play-off round.

"Now I'm here at AEK Athens, another great club. We started the play-offs and we are in the cup semi-final [against Aris on June 24]," Carrera said. "Our goal is to secure second place and win the Greek Cup.  AEK fans are very passionate, warm and close to the team."

AEK last won the league title in 2017-18 as Olympiacos and Panathinaikos continue to dominate, and Carrera added: "This gap can be eliminated by working hard and trying to add technical quality. It was not easy but having the technology on our side we managed to work by monitoring and watching the players."

Since Carrera moved to Athens Olympic Stadium, he has only overseen one defeat in 20 matches, with AEK in the midst of a 15-game unbeaten streak across all competitions. In total, Carrera has only lost 21 of his 119 games in charge of AEK, Spartak and Juve.

"I think I transmitted all the passion and emotion that I feel about football to the team," Carrera said.

As Carrera utilises his experiences under the likes of Giovanni Trapattoni and Marcello Lippi to make his mark in Europe, the one-time Italy international is dreaming of a fairytale return.

"Definitely go back to Juventus," Carrera said. "This is my dream!"

England prop Luke Thompson has joined Canterbury Bulldogs ahead of schedule after refusing to take a pay cut with St Helens.

Thompson was due to move to the NRL ahead of the 2021 season after signing a three-year deal in February.

The 25-year-old will instead head to Belmore with immediate effect for an undisclosed fee, ending a 13-year stay with the Super League champions.

Saints chairman Eamonn McManus revealed the club decided to grant Thompson an early release from his contract after he would not agree to take a reduction in his salary amid the coronavirus pandemic.

McManus said: "St Helens had been placed in a difficult position as Luke Thompson had opted not to participate in our club wide squad and staff pay reduction arrangement for the 2020 season, this being necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic and its significant commercial consequences."

Thompson will spend two weeks in quarantine before being available to make his Bulldogs debut.

Canterbury chief executive Andrew Hill said: "It is fantastic news that Luke will be able to arrive next week and be available to play this season after serving the compulsory isolation period.

"To have an international forward, seen by many as one the best front-rowers in the game, arrive early is tremendous news for all of our members and fans and a great boost for our squad for the rest of this season.

"I must thank St Helens for enabling this to happen and Luke for showing great character in arriving early and being prepared to sit through his isolation phase before joining us.

"We are hopeful that Luke will be out on the field representing the Bulldogs within the next month."

The 2020 Rugby League Ashes series between England and Australia has been cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

England were set to host the Kangaroos in three Test matches across October and November, reviving a format that had not been played for 17 years.

The Rugby Football League (RFL) and Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) are committed to bringing back the Ashes in the future, but it will not return this year.

A decision to cancel the event was taken due to "the continued complications surrounding global travel".

The joint statement from the governing bodies on Monday added: "Given the need to extend the domestic season in both hemispheres because of the significant disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the governing bodies have agreed to take an early decision to allow greater certainty for players and supporters.

"With the Rugby League World Cup to be held in England in 2021, discussions have already been opened on the potential for the Kangaroos returning for a three-Test Ashes series, from 2022 onwards."

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer said: "We make this announcement with great reluctance and disappointment.

"We had been looking forward so much to welcoming the Kangaroos for the revival of the Rugby League Ashes in 2020 – and the prospect of the series had captured the imagination of our players, broadcast and commercial partners, supporters and media alike.

"However the current circumstances have had a seismic impact on rugby league. After regular discussions with the ARLC over the last few months, combined with those within our domestic competitions, we have concluded that the right thing to do for the game as a whole is to make this decision now.

"It will have a considerable impact on the finances of rugby league here in England, as we were banking on a significant boost from Australia’s first full tour since 2003. 

"But as I have said regularly to all parts of the game since the seriousness of the situation became clear, we are all going to have to make sacrifices, and financial adjustments – and we should stress again our gratitude to the Government for the significant support they provided at the start of May, which will help us to deal with this major setback."

Australia last played in England when they won the Four Nations in 2016.

Former England international Kallum Watkins has signed a three-year deal with Toronto Wolfpack.

Watkins was released by Gold Coast Titans last month, returning to the United Kingdom from Australia after his dad contracted coronavirus.

The former Leeds Rhinos captain has accepted "significantly reduced pay terms" for this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto said in announcing the signing.

"First of all I would like to thank the Gold Coast Titans for granting me and my family the opportunity to go back home, I had a great time over there. To the owners, coaches, players, staff and the fans at the Titans, I wish them all the success in the world. I know they will turn things around at the club," Watkins said.

"I came back for family reasons. There has been a lot going on back home, and then when I heard about my dad I had to come back.

"I wanted to succeed in the NRL but I had to put my family first, and now I'm excited to be back playing in the Super League."

Brian McDermott coached Watkins at Leeds between 2011 and 2018 and the Toronto boss is glad to be working with the 29-year-old again.

"To add someone of the quality of Kallum Watkins to our squad during the league suspension is a positive move. I know first hand what Kallum can do and we are thrilled he will be joining us on-field once play resumes," he said.

"This is a testing time for sports teams all over the world, and we are no different.

"We are grateful that Kallum has shown commitment to our cause by agreeing to our revised pay model alongside his team-mates, and in line with many other players across our league."

The Super League season was suspended in March, with Toronto having lost their opening six games.

Top-flight rugby league in England is targeting an August return, Super League chief executive Robert Elstone has revealed.

The sport is almost certain to resume behind closed doors, in keeping with many others that are pushing to come back during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Elstone said Super League officials were also looking at when fans could be allowed back into stadiums, amid claims spectators could be readmitted from October 1 in a best-case scenario.

A BBC Sport report said plans have been drawn up that could see the season end with the Grand Final on November 28, December 12 or a January date.

Elstone said there was "no off-the-shelf manual" to solve the problems facing Super League, which has been suspended in the UK since mid March.

Clubs saw the season halted early in the campaign, with no team having played more than seven games.

In a letter to supporters, published on Super League's website, Elstone said: "We are now at a stage where we have three advanced models, based around a season restart date of mid-August, differentiated largely on when we expect the season to end.

"These plans will be refined over the short term as we learn lessons from the relaxation of social distancing, the return to work, the restart of other sports and the general trend of virus spread and control.

"Whilst it is as certain as it can be that our restart will take place behind closed doors, what is most important to you and us is when fans will be allowed back into our stadiums.

"Speculation on that date, and there is an absence of any well-informed ‘best-estimates’, has been factored into our fixture planning with a greater number of games scheduled towards the end of the projected season.

"In addition, work has already begun on crowd management in a COVID environment to ensure we're as ready as we can be when the opportunity first arises."

Queensland coach Kevin Walters is open to welcoming Greg Inglis back to State of Origin as the veteran makes his return to rugby league.

Inglis, 33, has signed a one-year deal with Super League side Warrington Wolves for 2021, it was announced on Tuesday.

The former Australia and Maroons star retired last year after a stellar career in the NRL, Origin and at international level.

Inglis made 32 appearances for Queensland between 2006 and 2018, and Walters would be open to having the veteran feature for his state again.

"Of course it can happen," he told Fox Sports on Wednesday.

"You've always got to keep your options open everywhere and Greg was such a fantastic player for the Maroons over that period of time that he played for us.

"Unfortunately, he didn't get to go out on his terms as such, so it's always an open invitation when you play for the Maroons.

"We've pulled some great players out of retirement and back into the jersey and with huge success, so Greg would certainly fall into that category."

Australia and Queensland great Greg Inglis will come out of retirement to play for Warrington Wolves in the 2021 season, the Super League club have confirmed.

Formerly of Melbourne Storm and South Sydney Rabbitohs, Inglis established himself as one of the leading lights of the modern era in rugby league over the course of 263 NRL appearances, before announcing his retirement in April last year.

The 33-year-old also won 39 caps for the Kangaroos and made 32 State of Origin appearances, and he is relishing the next and unexpected chapter of a decorated career in England.

"I can't wait to get over there and play for a club that has so much rich heritage," said 2013 World Cup winner Inglis, whose move is subject to a visa.

"I've seen the success the team have had in the Challenge Cup and I want to help the team to deliver more glory.

"I've played over in England many times in representative footy and love how passionate and vocal the supporters are.

"To get the opportunity to live in the UK, to play for such a powerhouse club that I believe is on the rise is something I'm looking forward to and hopefully I can add value to the team."

Warrington are the reigning Challenge Cup holders after beating St Helens 18-4 at Wembley last year but have frequently been on the receiving end of showpiece heartache, suffering four Super League Grand Final defeats in the past eight seasons.

Head coach Steve Price hopes Inglis can help Wire to take that elusive final step and claim the top prize in England for the first time since 1955.

"Greg is a world class athlete and has received the highest honours within our game," Price said.

"Having had 12 months out of the sport he has had time to refresh both mentally and physically, and he is focussed on having a positive influence on Warrington Wolves.

"I'm looking forward to working with him on a professional and personal level, and I'm excited to welcome him into our group."

The 2020 Challenge Cup final has been postponed, though the Rugby Football League (RFL) hopes the game will be played this year.

Wembley Stadium was due to host the fixture on July 18 but, with the season still suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, that will no longer be possible.

The Challenge Cup had reached the sixth round before the rugby league campaign was halted in March.

However, the RFL said in a statement: "The intention remains for the finals to be played later in the year – contingent on the public health situation and government advice."

Warrington Wolves are the holders of the famous trophy, recording an 18-4 triumph over St Helens last year.

The AB Sundecks 1895 Cup final – a competition for Championship and League One teams – was due to be staged on the same day at Wembley, with that fixture also called off.

Jamaica's 2019/2020 football season in - nationally and at the parish level - has been cancelled and declared null and void, Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Michael Ricketts said in a statement on Friday.

The UK government has announced that professional sport will not be staged in England until June 1 at the earliest.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday announced a "roadmap" outlining how lockdown restrictions may be eased, but there was no mention of a potential return of professional sport.

The government released a lengthy document on Monday, which outlined that action may resume from the start of next month as part of step two of lifting restrictions.

It states that one of the changes from June 1 could be "permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact."

The government also stated reopening venues such as sports stadia that attract large crowds "may only be fully possible significantly later depending on the reduction in numbers of infections", so it could be a long time before spectators are allowed in.

Premier League clubs were meeting on Monday to continue talks over 'Project Restart', with the season having been suspended since March 13 due to the COVID-19 crisis.

This has been billed as a crucial week for English football, with doubts lingering over whether top flight and Football League action can resume.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) last month announced that there will be no professional cricket played in the UK until July 1, with The Hundred put back until next year.

July is the target for a resumption of the Premiership rugby union season, but no dates have been confirmed.

Further developments were that those not on a shortlist of exemptions must self-isolate in their accommodation for fourteen days on arrival into the UK.

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