England elite recruit Bateman to step up Bradford Bulls comeback (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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England elite recruit John Bateman to step up Bradford Bulls comeback
John Bateman will celebrate his invitation to join England’s elite training squad with another appearance for the Bulls’ Academy side this week.
The 19-year-old back-rower has not played first-team rugby since the win at Huddersfield last August and underwent a shoulder reconstruction during the off-season.
Having marked his comeback with a short stint in last Thursday’s under-19s’ defeat at Huddersfield, Bateman is poised to turn out for Paul Medley’s side again on Friday at Widnes.
Another successful run-out in what will be a curtain-raiser to the senior side’s clash with the Vikings should leave Bateman well placed to come into contention for the following weekend’s Super League home clash with Hull KR.
Bulls coach Francis Cummins said: “John will probably play the full game for the under-19s at Widnes on Friday.
“He’s got to carry on with his rehabilitation and, depending on how he plays, he could come into contention for Hull KR the week after.
“But as I’ve said before, I won’t rush John back because the club have invested a three-year contract in him and it’s important we get him right.”
Bateman’s talent saw him captain England’s Academy side in Australia last year and he has been invited to train with the senior squad as they begin their preparations for the World Cup later this year.
The group will meet up at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire over the weekend of March 16-17 and there will be a further four camps throughout the year, including high-altitude training in Potchefstroom, South Africa, at the end of the domestic season.
Bateman, Leeds rookie Stevie Ward and Warrington’s Ben Currie have all been invited to the first camp, giving the former England Academy trio the opportunity to experience training at the elite level.
Cummins said: “It’s a bit early for John at the moment but it’s a reflection of where he was last year and the improvement that he made in his game.
“It’s good that he has been recognised because he has the potential to do really well.”
Meanwhile, Cummins revealed that on-loan Warrington forward Ben Evans is making steady progress in his recovery from hip surgery and was hopeful of being back in action by Easter.
Matt Diskin should be fit to face Widnes after missing the win over Huddersfield with a dead leg, while Manase Manuokafoa is set to shake off a shoulder knock sustained against the Giants.
Luke Gale is out of his protective boot and will visit a specialist again within the next fortnight as he hopes to get the go-ahead to run fully ahead of a return to action.