John Bateman wants England captaincy and tells Wigan not to have one track mind

JOHN Bateman wants to be England's rugby league captain. As he puts it: "Who wouldn't?"

The back-row star is back in Super League at Wigan after a stellar stint in the NRL with Canberra Raiders.

And he is touted as the replacement for retired Sean O'Loughlin to lead the national side into this year's World Cup.

If boss Shaun Wane comes calling, he will not get a no.

Bateman said: "Of course I’d like to be captain, why wouldn’t you?

“If I asked anyone, ‘Would you want to be captain of England?’ They’d say yes.

“It would be a fantastic thing for myself, especially with the World Cup this year. That would be fantastic.

“I’d love the opportunity to lead out my country. I’ve done it as a kid with age group teams and 100 per cent I want to do it.

“I spoke to Shaun a couple of weeks ago and we just went through what he wanted from me this year. It’s pretty similar to what he was like when he was at Wigan!”

Bateman has rejoined Wigan as they hurt from Grand Final heartbreak.

The Warriors lost to St Helens in the most dramatic finish possible, when Tommy Makinson’s drop goal on the hooter bounced off the post, up off the turf and Jack Welsby touched down.

But Bateman believes focussing solely on avenging their Grand Final heartbreak could be a bad thing – that moment should not be the sole focus for Adrian Lam’s men.

There is only one way to get over it, by beating every other side to the title.

Bateman, who was actually on the plane returning from Canberra as the drama took place, said: “Losing that game is obviously going to hurt, it was the final game of the season and when it comes to the Grand Final, you want to win it.

“Focus on it too much and it could distract from other things, that’s not what you want to do.

“You want to win every game. If we just win one against St Helens this year and lose the others, who gives a s*** really? We’d be close to the bottom of the league and for us that’s not what it’s about.

“It’s not really been spoken about. Everyone knows that in sport, as soon as a game is over you can’t really do much about it.

“Don’t get me wrong, everyone’s gutted they lost but the more you go over it, the less you can do about it.”

Bateman’s return is seen as a reason why Wigan are tipped by many to win Super League this year.

He could easily have stayed but being away from family, not least daughter Millie, meant he headed home and he is currently in his home city of Bradford, West Yorkshire.

And while he has learned he is not the best home teacher, especially when it comes to maths, English and science, he is a much more rounded player and person.

Ahead of today's return to cherry and white at Salford, Bateman, 27, told SunSport: “Australia definitely changed me as a player. It made me learn the game and become a student of it a lot more.

“I probably sat back and understood it a lot more – understanding the fact it’s not just a matter of getting the ball, running and trying to break through a defence, there’s a lot more to it.

“I matured as a player a lot and I’d say the same about me as a person. It made me grow up a lot more. I was 25-years-old when I went over and it took me away from my family.

“Not just being a drive or a phone call away. I was literally 24 hours away and the country works differently to what I’d been brought up on.

“Being there made me mature a lot more as a person.

“Being in lockdown in Australia was a lot harder for me because I didn’t have anyone around me. I didn’t see my family for 11 months, which I never planned on doing.

“Not being able to go out and do stuff back here is a bit different but it helps save money, so that’s a positive!”

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