The Liam Farrell column: Bateman will be a special player

John Bateman crosses for a try against Hull FC
John Bateman crosses for a try against Hull FC

WHEN Wigan signed John Bateman, it caught me by surprise.

I knew he was a good young player, but we were well-stocked for backrowers at the time - it wasn’t as if we needed to strengthen that area.

England's Adrian Morley applauds the crowd

England's Adrian Morley applauds the crowd

We had Greg Burke and Jack Hughes there too, and we’d just won the double.

But when he arrived, he shocked everyone, and he just keeps on getting better and better.

He’s going to be a special player.

I’m quite confident he’ll be in the frame for an England call-up.

I thought he was outstanding against Hull FC last Friday night, but he’s been doing it all year for us, at either back-row or centre.

He’s one of those players who, if you put him in any position, he’d give 100 per cent and put his heart into it. And his approach pays off for him.

He’s deceptively strong, because even though he doesn’t look the biggest he plays like a front-rower.

Waney has said he’s a natural 13, and I’d go along with that. He has that aggressive streak, and the skills, to make it at loose forward in the next few years. But in the meantime he’s doing a great job for us, and it’s pleasing to see.

Ideally, I’ll be playing against St Helens on Friday - we’ll make a call after team-run tomorrow.

It’s shaping as a great game.

All derbies are special, but with us both in the top-four and jostling for positions, it has a lot riding on the outcome as well.

Some of the games in the Super 8s have gone a bit stale – just because we know who’ll be in the play-offs already.

But for us, we’re hoping to catch Leeds and land the No.1 spot and it’s exciting.

Obviously the results last weekend played a big factor.

Catalans put in a great performance to play Leeds – they certainly looked like they had something to play for - and our win against Hull FC drew us level at the top.

It turned out to be a pretty hard-fought win, too, and fair play to the young lads at Hull, they put in a great effort right until the end.

I’ll be following the rugby union World Cup.

I’m not the biggest follower of the sport - I don’t think I’ll ever play it! - but I do try and watch England’s games.

I’m hoping they can do well, and I’m really interested to see how Sam Burgess goes.

He was awesome in league, and I know some critics think he’s got his chance in union too soon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes an impact in the tournament - he’s that type of player.

He was one of the best in the world at league – for such a special player, he was modest about it. But he definitely has a presence, physically he can impose himself on a game, and he has an aura which is hard to quantify.

I wish England - and Sam - all the best.

From one of my ex-England team-mates to another, and Adrian Morley has announced he will be retiring at the end of the season.

What a career he has had!

He was certainly a player I looked up to as a kid and, when I got into the England squad, it felt a bit weird being alongside him - but that was soon removed because of the fact he’s such a good fella.

He’s modest and loves a laugh. And when it came to training, he was always one of the fittest blokes in the squad.

On the pitch, you always knew you were going to be challenged when you play against him.

I’m chuffed to have played alongside him, and while Super League won’t be the same without him, he can be proud of an immense career.