JOHN Bateman has been in awe of Jamie Peacock since his formative days on the terraces at Odsal.
But Bradford-born Bateman is determined to do everything he can to ruin his hero’s big send-off this weekend at Old Trafford.
I can’t say I had a proper go last year. It was one of those things, but I’m really looking forward to thisJohn Bateman
Peacock, 38 in December, will finally call time on his career when the final hooter sounds on Saturday night.
Bateman has enjoyed locking horns – often quite literally – with the Leeds prop over the years.
And he is looking forward to one more tear up before Peacock hangs up his boots for a new challenge on the coaching staff at Hull KR.
“It’s weird to play against him now, because I used to sit in the stands watching him play,” acknowledged Bateman.
“I like playing against him – I see it as a good chance to test yourself against the best.
“Those run-ins, they’re nothing personal – we both just want to win.
“I’ve spoken to him after the games, and he’s told me to keep on doing what I’m doing, which was nice to hear.”
It’ll be Bateman’s second Grand Final in two years at Wigan since he moved from the Bulls at the end of 2013.
Having only made a late cameo towards the end of last year’s showpiece against St Helens, he’s expected to play a key role this time round.
“I played about 20 minutes at the end, and that’s the big thing, I want to put my foot down on this one,” Bateman revealed.
“I can’t say I had a proper go last year. It was one of those things, but I’m really looking forward to this.
“I was finding my feet a year ago. A few lads were – George (Williams) for instance – and now he makes the side tick.
“I feel more settled than a year ago. I know my role here and to play in a Grand Final, hopefully kick on.”
Bateman has shown his versatility this term, filling in with great effect in the centres as well as back-row.
“Centre or second-row, I’ll enjoy it and take it as it comes,” he says. “Waney knows I’m happy to play anywhere, but I prefer back-row.
“The one thing at centre, you have to get yourself involved, but in the middle you’re naturally involved.”
Last week’s demolition of Huddersfield suggested Warriors have once again timed their finishing sprint to perfection.
Bateman knows it’s all or nothing as the top two sides in Super League go head to head for the ultimate bragging rights.
“No-one remembers second best,” he insisted.
“Man for man, put us up against anyone and we’re better than anyone. It’s if we decide to turn up. We do try our best all year, but when we have to do it, we do it. And we’ve got to do it once more.”
While Saturday’s game will be a real ‘War of the Roses’, Bateman’s Bradford ties mean there will be at least one pocket of West Yorkshire cheering for Wigan on the night.
“There are so many people who sacrifice so much,” he revealed. “My mum, brother, gran and grandad, taking me to games everywhere, training, and looking after me.
“They’ll be there on Saturday, as well as (daughter) Millie – she’ll be shouting and screaming. They come to every game. It’s a trek from Bradford, they don’t get back until midnight.”