JOHN Bateman admits he could hardly have asked for a better England debut.
He scored two tries and claimed the man of the match prize in the 84-4 rout of France in Saturday’s Test at Leigh Sports Village.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, to play for my country,” he said. “When I found out I was playing it was a big thrill, I got presented my shirt and cap by Adrian Morley - someone I want to aspire to be like.
“Even though it wasn’t the toughest game, it was a big moment for me and hopefully I’ll get a chance to play New Zealand.”
Bateman admits he was grateful for his spell at centre for Wigan in helping secure his place in the England side. Coach Steve McNamara employed the 22-year-old at left centre - he plays predominantly on the right for his club.
With Sam Tomkins returning to the fold for the opening Test against the Kiwis this Sunday, Bateman may revert to the second-row if Zak Hardaker is shifted to centre.
“I’m definitely glad I’ve played some games at centre,” he said. “I’ll play where I’m put and give it my all, but obviously from playing a bit at centre it’s given me a chance to learn the position.
“I played at Bradford on the left, so it wasn’t a big thing to switch sides. It was just a case of getting back into it. But when you’ve got Gaz (Widdop), Liam Farrell and Ryan Hall on your side - they are all world-class - it’s easy.”
Bateman wasn’t carried away by the landslide scoreline against a depleted French side.
“Next week will be a lot more intense,” he said. “But I want to test myself against the best and New Zealand are the best.”