England loose forward John Bateman knows there is still room for improvement

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John Bateman says he will strive to get better after learning that his man-of-the-match performance in England’s mid-season international was not enough to guarantee him a starting spot at the World Cup.

The Wigan loose forward was the star performer as he scored one try and created another in England’s 18-4 victory over the Combined Nations All Stars at Warrington on Saturday.

Head coach Shaun Wane said there were more positives than negatives from the performance of his team but is still no nearer to finalising his line-up for the World Cup opener against Samoa on October 15.

“I’d say three or four of them are nailed on,” Wane said. “I’m not sure John is one of them.

John Bateman
John Bateman scored a try at Warrington on Saturday (Martin Rickett/PA)

“Overall he was busy and looked good but I genuinely think he can do a bit better.

“I played him in the middle and gave him a free roving role and he seemed to enjoy it but there are some things he needs to get better at.”

St Helens duo Jonny Lomax and Morgan Knowles missed Saturday’s game through injury and Wane will also be able to call on the likes of Elliott Whitehead and Tom Burgess from his NRL contingent for the World Cup.

And Bateman, who led England to victory in last October’s Test match against France in the absence of Sam Tomkins, says he is ready to heed the advice of his former Wigan boss as he seeks to nail down his spot.

“You have to keep playing well,” he said. “He’s the coach and he picks the side and it’s totally up to him.

“I suppose everyone can do a bit more, that’s what it’s all about. We need to play the best we can.

“It’s going to be a 24-man squad for the World Cup, it will be about those 24 playing the best standard and that will get us over the line.”

Bateman endured a difficult first season in 2021 following his return from the NRL but has started to find his old form under new coach Matt Peet and Saturday’s match-winning performance capped a memorable month after he helped Wigan win the Challenge Cup and became a father for the second time.

“It’s been a good month or so,” he said. “I’m really enjoying my rugby. I’ve said previously that, compared to last year, I’m just enjoying my rugby and that brings the best out of me.”

On Saturday, Bateman also helped bring the best out of his former Wigan team-mate George Williams, another tryscorer at the Halliwell Jones Stadium who has endured a form slump with his new club Warrington this season.

“It’s good to play with George,” Bateman said. “He’s had a tough year and a lot of people have been at him but – and I apologise for swearing – I think it’s a load of bull****.

“He’s one of the best players on his day. It’s hard sometimes when you’re in a team that’s not winning but George for me is the best out there, he’s one of those players I’d have by my side any day of the week.

“It (playing for England) gets your confidence up. I hope they don’t go back and win too many games but I hope he plays well. He’s my mate and a team-mate as well.”

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