New Zealand
Tim Bateman heading to Japan for family reasons
May 15, 2014

Tim Bateman will leave the Hurricanes at the end of the Super Rugby season after signing for a second stint of club rugby in Japan. Bateman, 26, will play two seasons for West Red Sparks, repeating his stint with the club in 2011-2012. He played previously for the Red Sparks between three seasons with Canterbury and the Crusaders and another three with Wellington and the Hurricanes.

Bateman, a regular selection for the Maori All Blacks since 2008, was motivated to move to improve the health prospects of his wife, Laura, who was diagnosed last year with multiple sclerosis. A lack of treatment options in New Zealand compared unfavourably with those in Japan, where Bateman said, the Red Sparks have committed to help care for her. The couple and their two daughters will live near a leading medical specialist in Fukuoka.

"She needed to show a level of deterioration before they fund her treatment [in New Zealand] whereas you can go away, and it became a bit of a no-brainer really," Bateman said. "It's been a long process and it's not that nice seeing her struggling a little bit and not getting what she needs. So we made the decision to go.

"Everything we've read about MS is [getting] treatment early is really important. So we've decided to go with that but hopefully we can come back because ideally we'd be here."

Japan's Top League also offers a family-friendly schedule with fewer games compared with a year of Super Rugby and ITM Cup in New Zealand.

"I'll have a lot more time to help out with her," he said.

Bateman's season has been hampered by a knee injury and the form of Alapati Leiua at second five-eighth, although has been named to start against the Highlanders at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Friday.

"I was just sitting there waiting, thinking: 'Am I going to get another crack?'," Bateman said. "So I want to make the most of it this week."


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