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John Bateman back to fire up Bradford Bulls’ push for play-off slot
John Bateman is raring to go at Huddersfield tomorrow as the Bulls go in search of a victory that would give their play-off hopes another massive boost.
The Bradford-born forward landed back in the UK on Tuesday after spending the past three-and-a-half weeks in Australia with England’s Academy squad.
Bateman captained the side, which also featured Bulls team-mate Liam McAvoy, but it was a chastening experience as England’s young guns lost the two-match Test series 2-0 to the Australian Schoolboys after winning both warm-up games.
Nevertheless, 18-year-old Bateman enjoyed his role as leader of Dave Elliott’s squad and now wants to play his part in the Super League run-in as the Bulls look to secure a play-off spot despite the uncertainty hanging over the club’s future.
“I’ve just been trying to keep my head down in Australia because I didn’t want to be thinking about it when I was trying to win a Test,” said Bateman.
“But I’ve come back and it’s still up in the air. We can’t do anything about it, it’s people above us who need to sort it out.
“My mum let me know a few times what had been going on. She told me not to worry about it and just concentrate on my rugby.”
Bateman has missed the past four Bulls games due to his international commitments but Mick Potter’s men have remained in play-off contention despite their six-point deduction for entering administration.
“At the beginning of the season, people were writing us off and saying we’d finish bottom,” said Bateman.
“Now we’re looking to push into the top eight and we’re really proving people wrong, despite having six points deducted.
“We just want to push on now, get in the top eight and secure it.
“I had a few knocks over there but I’ve had time to rest and I’m fit and ready to play against Huddersfield this weekend.”
Bateman has plenty of admirers in Super League but it is believed that his progress is also being monitored by a number of NRL clubs.
The back-rower can understand the attraction of playing Down Under but says he cannot see himself making such a move any time soon.
“I didn’t go over there to talk to anyone else or sign for anyone else,” explained Bateman, who is father to young daughter Millie.
“I just wanted to play rugby for England and that’s all I did – I didn’t meet up with anyone. I could maybe play over there in the future but not at the moment, not at my age.
“I missed my little girl and my mum when I was in Australia and I was just glad to get home and see all my family and my girlfriend.
“I really missed Millie and speaking to her on the phone got to me a bit at the end of the tour.
“I was so looking forward to seeing her when I get back on Tuesday. It does take its toll on you when you’re used to seeing people close to you every day.
“Like I say, I’d look at the NRL in the future but I wouldn’t say I’m ready for it yet.”
Bateman, who met with Sam, Luke and George Burgess and also watched two NRL games during his time Down Under, admits the Australian Schoolboys were too strong.
The Aussie youngsters won the Tests 41-10 and 40-14 and Bateman said: “The standard was very high and I think it caught everyone out really.
“There were parts in the game where we were matching them but we just didn’t play the full 80 minutes.
“I think that’s where they beat us but I don’t think the scoreline reflected the games. They took their chances and we didn’t.”