England stars moving to NRL will want Test assurances from clubs, says Bateman

John Bateman in action against Huddersfield last Friday
John Bateman in action against Huddersfield last Friday

John Bateman believes England stars heading to the NRL may seek assurances about their international opportunities in wake of the controversy over the America Test.

Wayne Bennett’s England are set to play New Zealand in Denver on June 23.

But the ground-breaking game – in the international-window – has come under jeopardy with some Australian outfits threatening to block their English and Kiwi stars from taking part.

And Bateman says it would be prudent for any players making the move Down Under to seek assurances about clubs’ stances on releasing players for mid-season Tests before making a move the NRL.

The 24-year-old, who has been linked with a move to Australia, said: “It makes you think, ‘What’s the crack?’

“I’m a proud Englishman, I want to play for my country. I’d give every opportunity to play for my country.

“And if someone is going to stand in the way of you doing that... you’d want to know where you stand.

“You probably want to get that principle (established) of, ‘What is going to happen with it?’

“To get stopped from playing for your country is a big issue because it’s one of those things you want to do.”

NRL bosses have used travel and the high-altitude in Denver as reasons why their stars should not take part in the venture, which will net the RFL and NZRL significant sums.

Bateman, who played at centre for England during the World Cup, has been baffled by the resistance to the Test - especially as there are no club games on that weekend.

“I don’t know where they’re coming from, to be fair,” he said.

“I can’t see what the problem is.

“From my point of view and from what the other lads I’ve spoken to, it’s an experience they want to be involved in, and they want to play. I can’t see why they’d (block) it. People may see the Samoa game didn’t make a difference but it really did, even just the little things, bringing the boys together. For an English point of view, it’s what we need.”

Bateman is under contract with Wigan until the end of next season but has a release clause allowing him to move to the NRL at the end of this year if a predetermined transfer fee is paid.

He says he will wait until the busy Easter period is over before giving his future more serious thought.