Bradford Bulls season preview: You ain't seen nothin' yet, says Bateman (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford Bulls season preview: You ain't seen nothin' yet, says John Bateman
Talk to anyone in the game about John Bateman and the soundbites are always the same.
“Great young talent, arguably the best young player in Super League… just how good can he be?”
Well, the man himself is unequivocal.
“I came through last year and people were talking about me a lot,” said Bateman.
“But personally I felt I could have done a lot better.
“Last year helped me to find my feet and got me used to playing with my team-mates.
“This year I know what the crack is and I’m ready to go.
“I just want to show Franny (Cummins) what I can do because he’s a new coach and I can’t wait to start playing again.”
Bateman will miss the opening month of the season as he recovers from a reconstruction of his right shoulder.
The surgery came at the end of a tumultuous year for the 19-year-old.
He established himself as a first-team regular and was likened by Sky’s Phil Clarke to a young Andy Farrell.
As the Bulls faced financial meltdown, six-figure bids from big-spending Warrington were tabled for his signature.
Then he led his country Down Under, captaining the England Academy side during a two-match Test series against Australia Schoolboys.
Uncertainty over the club continued until Omar Khan stepped in to save the Bulls and hand Bateman a new and improved three-year deal.
The boyhood Bulls fan from West Bowling could be back in action by the end of February or early March.
“You can’t rest on your laurels, though,” said Bateman.
“Just because I played last year it doesn’t mean I’m going to get straight back in the team.
“I need to work hard again and earn my place back.
“That’s what I’m looking forward to doing.
“The competition is tough but, like I say, I feel there’s a lot more to come from me.”
Bateman is highly regarded in the game and a big season this year could yet propel him into the senior England squad ahead of the World Cup in the autumn.
The back-rower, who met with England skipper Kevin Sinfield during the off-season for tips and advice, added: “I said to Kevin that it was hard for me to come here after playing for Dudley Hill, going from winning games week in and week out, to playing for the Bulls and not getting in the play-offs.
“But it’s one of those things that if you keep on working at it then you’re going to achieve it one day.
“I actually think it’s our time again. I believe it will come back around for us and I’ve got high hopes for us this year.
“Sinfield said to me that Leeds didn’t win a title for many years.
“Success is cyclical and Wigan have had had it, Leeds have had it.
“When you walk in the Trevor Foster Bar you see pictures on the walls of all the legends who have represented this club.
“You see all the Grand Finals they got to and it would be great to emulate what they did.
“I loved players like Robbie Paul and Lesley Vainikolo. I’d love to do what they did and bring the good times back to Bradford.
“Growing up supporting the Bulls and being from Bradford, I can’t ask for any more than playing for the club and trying to help them achieve success.”