Bradford-born Bateman, 20, made his debut for Bulls three years ago against Catalan in Perpignan and Kearney remembers his rise to prominence.
The Australian full back said: “Papa was a Bradford junior and a very good one at that.
“I think the first time I saw him was when I got to a game early and they were saying how good this 16-year-old kid was.
“Sometimes you think ‘another good 16-year-old kid’, but then I watched him and I thought ‘Oh yes, this kid can play’.
“It wasn’t long after that John made his first-team debut when he was 17.
“He was a bit raw and was used to throwing everyone around.
“Some of the things he did in his first couple of matches, you could see he had a big future in the game.
“I still believe he’s going to go a long way in the game and I don’t think we’ve seen anywhere near the best of Papa.
“He was unfortunate with a few injuries in the past few years but he’s got a long time left in his career.
“I haven’t really seen him play this season but I’m sure he will want to play against us to show people the player he is.”
Bateman skippered the England Academy side in Australia in 2012 and Kearney believes he will soon be in the senior squad.
Kearney added: “Will Papa play for England? Definitely.
“I think if injuries hadn’t gone against him in the last couple of years he might have gone to the World Cup last season.
“He’s just got a football brain, like Elliott Whitehead, and both kids were just really good at rugby league.
“If they were smaller they would play in the halves and if they were bigger they would probably play in the front row.”