John Bateman is dreaming of a place in England’s World Cup squad as he closes in on his Bulls comeback.
The homegrown back-rower is recovering from a shoulder reconstruction and should be playing again in early March.
Having met up with the England Knights and elite training squad for the first time at a get-together in Bury last week, Bateman is looking even further ahead.
He captained the England Academy side in Australia last season and wants to force his way into Steve McNamara’s senior side for the showpiece tournament in the autumn.
“Hopefully I can take the next step now from the Bradford first-team into the World Cup squad at the end of the year,” said the 19-year-old from West Bowling.
“That would be a massive achievement but for now I’m just looking at getting back for Bradford and being part of the Knights squad.
“When you are called into the England set-up, you have to perform or you are out – it’s as simple as that.
“I’ll work hard and do my best and see how things go as the season progresses.”
Former Bulls boss McNamara has a wealth of options at his disposal as the national side bid to win the World Cup for the first time since 1972, when Great Britain lifted the trophy in France.
Bateman currently has the likes of Gareth Ellis, Ben Westwood and Gareth Hock ahead of him in the pecking order.
But he reasoned: “They are top players but it’s time for us younger lads to push them.
“It’s a dog-eat-dog world at the end of the day and I think Elliott Whitehead (who attended the same meeting in Bury with Bateman and Luke Gale) will be pushing for selection too.
“He’s up there as one of the best players I’ve ever played with – and I’m not just saying that because he’s a good mate of mine.
“If he kicks on and takes that next step, then there will be no stopping him. It just depends how much he wants it.
“He scores tries and has had a great pre-season, so everything is geared up for Elliott to go to the next level now.”