Bateman: This is the pinnacle for me

John Bateman in action against Tonga. Picture: NRL Photos
John Bateman in action against Tonga. Picture: NRL Photos

John Bateman is “buzzing” at the prospect of making history with England this weekend.

But the makeshift centre admits they will need to produce the performance of their lives if they are to beat Australia in the World Cup final.

He said: “I’m buzzing, I’m really happy.

“Since the start of the season we’ve had meetings and spoken about this, and it’s all about the journey we’re on. And now we’re 80 minutes away from winning it.

“Australia have not been beaten for a couple years and it’s one of those things we want to do, and something we need to do.

“We all watched their semi-final and they’re a good team.

“We will need to be on the ball.”

The 24-year-old was in the England side which lost 18-4 to the Kangaroos at the start of the World Cup.

Since then, Bennett’s men have been unbeaten and Bateman said: “It was the first game, the first we’d played together and we’ve kicked on from that and learned things about ourselves over the other games.

“I’m looking forward to this.”

It is England’s first World Cup final since 1995 – when Andy Farrell, Kris Radlinski and Jason Robinson were members of the side which lost 16-8 at Wembley.

Bateman will have members of his family, including daughter Millie, at the stadium in Brisbane.

“She text me before she went to bed to say, ‘Dad, try and get to the final, I want to come to Australia’, so she’ll be happy,” said Bateman.

“It’s the pinnacle of your career, to play in a World Cup final, and to have them there makes it even better.”

England secured a place in the decider by beating Tonga 20-18. But they had to endure a nerve-shredding finale after letting a 20-0 lead slip in the final seven minutes.

“When I scored the try, I didn’t think it was job done but I thought it was close to job done,” said Bateman.

“Obviously, we were 20-0 up and it put us in a strong position, but Tonga are a great team and they came back at us, and that’s what happened.

“I think it was more individual mistakes than anything, it’s one of those – we will learn from it.

“It happens in sport and thankfully it didn’t cost us. I was nervous, but we got the result and now we’re in the final.

“It’s exciting. I’ve seen a few Wigan fans knocking about, it’s great to have the England fans over.”