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World Cup incentive for Bradford Bulls youngster John Bateman
John Bateman had one the most hectic days of his fledgling career on Sunday.
First he made his comeback from injury, scoring a try and playing a key role in the Bulls’ 34-12 home win over Hull KR.
Then he raced to RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire to meet up with England’s elite training squad for the remainder of their weekend camp.
“I arrived at about eight o’clock on Sunday night,” said the 19-year-old prospect.
“I got introduced to the lads and had something to eat, watched television with Rangi Chase and Gareth Hock and then went to bed.
“On the Monday morning, we did a team-building activity, had a team picture taken and then had a little gym session.
“I’ve only ever seen some of the other lads on the pitch before but being around them in that sort of environment allowed me to get to know them straight away. There were a few nerves beforehand but I really enjoyed it.”
Being invited to train with Steve McNamara’s senior squad, along with Leeds youngster Stevie Ward, said much for the regard in which Bateman is held.
The World Cup is looming at the end of the year and Bateman knows a big season could see him force his way into McNamara’s plans.
The Bulls back-rower captained the England Academy in their tour of Australia last year and is expected to represent the second-tier England Knights this season.
Bateman revealed: “Steve spoke to me on Monday and told me to get my head down this year. He said ‘you’ve been injured, we know that, but it’s down to you now’.
“He then said ‘we’ve already had reports from Sunday’s game and we heard you played well. Carry on going like that and we’ll see what happens at the end of the year.’
“Steve explained that the game scores from all the Super League games are on his desk on a Monday morning. He said he will know straight away how I am performing.
“It’s good to know and makes you play better because it gives you something to aim for, especially with the World Cup looming.”
Bateman’s appearance against Rovers was his first in Super League since last August. He has since undergone a shoulder reconstruction and looked like he had never been away.
“I struggled a bit with my fitness during the first half, with it being my first Super League game back, but I got into the game more and more and really enjoyed myself,” he said.
“Scoring a try was great and came on the back of what the team were doing because we were playing really well in the first half.
“The more pressure you put on the opposition, the more adventurous you get and that’s how it worked out.
“I think I ended up playing 75 minutes, so it was a good stint considering it was my first game back.
“We had a few injuries through the week and I was pretty happy to find out I was starting. I wanted to find my feet straight away and I thought I did that.
“Hopefully I can start scoring a few tries but if not then hopefully I can create stuff for other people as well.
“Working hard for the team is the main thing and if I get a try then it’s an extra bonus and good for the team.”