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John Bateman planning a big season with Bradford Bulls
Bulls star John Bateman has vowed to get back to his best next season after a frustrating 2013 campaign.
The former England Academy captain took Super League by storm during 2012 when he led his country in Australia.
That form saw the then teenage sensation awarded the coveted Albert Goldthorpe rookie of the year award, with many believing that a place in Steve McNamara’s World Cup squad could be on the horizon.
But shoulder reconstruction surgery in pre-season saw Bateman miss the entirety of Francis Cummins’ preparations for 2013.
That saw the former Dudley Hill junior struggle to hit previous heights, with ankle ligament damage sustained in July’s win against Hull cutting his season short just when he started to hit form.
Bateman, who made his debut aged 17 in 2011, admits that he found it difficult last campaign.
He said: “After the shoulder operation I was just catching up on stuff. You don’t realise how far behind you are until you actually start playing, which is a bit of a shock.
“Having your shoulder reconstructed is not an easy one to have either because you are always using it.
“You don’t really think about it until you actually know what it really feels like in match contact.
“It’s a big part of the game and when you start tackling someone, you really start to feel it.
“For me it was just about getting used to it again because it does feel a bit different and I’m now really looking forward to getting back training because it was a real up and down season for me.
“I kept getting back but something else then happened, so I can’t wait to get up to full fitness again.”
Bateman now has his sights set on getting a full pre-season under his belt for 2014.
“To be a good player, it’s about showing that you can come back from these injuries and I want to show that next year now,” he said.
“I’ve never really had a proper full pre-season because when you’re a young player, coaches don’t really put you through it the same way as some of the older lads.
“I’ve got my protective boot off my ankle and my pre-season has already started now, so I’m looking to put in all that hard work and keeping my head down until the season starts in January.
“I’ve had my time off with my operation and now I’ll see what I can do and how I can improve.”
Speaking about his targets for next season, Bateman added: “I just want to come back and be better than I was this year.
“I need to kick on massively because I feel like I’ve missed out on a year. I know people say that you shouldn’t blame it on yourself but you can’t help but do that.
“These things just happen and I want to put last season behind me and just move on up from here on.”
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