John Bateman on the "big lessons" Great Britain have learned ahead of New Zealand clash
John Bateman is confident Great Britain have learned “big lessons” ahead of Saturday’s opening showdown with New Zealand.
The Lions face Michael Maguire’s outfit in back-to-back Tests on successive Saturdays.
And this game has been put under sharper focus following an opening tour defeat by a Tongan Invitational XIII.
Back in action after a 12-year absence, the Lions are licking their wounds after being given a rude awakening on their return to the international scene in Hamilton.
The tourists went down 14-6 to the talented Pacific Islanders with former Warrior Bateman scoring Britain’s only try.
“We’ve not had much time on the field which probably showed,” said Bateman, who left Wigan for Canberra 12 months ago.
“We’re not blaming anything, we have a team of great players and we should have done better.
“You never want to lose but we’ll taken some big lessons from that game.”
The Kiwis will also go in the first Test in Auckland on the back of a sobering defeat, Maguire’s men proving no match for Australia in a 26-4 defeat in Woollongong.
Wigan coach Adrian Lam is assistant coach of the Kangaroos.
“We watched their game, they were pretty unlucky, but Australia just grind away at you,” said Bateman.
“I expect a strong team, I’m sure both sides will be ready to bounce back.”
Bateman was singled out for praise by coach Wayne Bennett for his all-action display against Tonga.
And despite the result, he was proud to get his first chance to play in a GB shirt, having previously impressed for England.
“I always look forward to representing my country, and I’m so glad Great Britain has come back because I’ve grown up watching it as a kid,” he said.
“It’s been fantastic to be back in the squad. I’ve missed these boys.”
Bateman has previously been moved to centre for England, but Bennett has retained him in the back-row for this Test, despite the loss of Oliver Gildart to injury.
Hull FC’s versatile Jake Connor will replace Gildart.
“I’ll play wherever, it’s Great Britain, but I’d rather it be backrow,” admitted Bateman, who was crowned the NRL forward of the year after a debut campaign which finished with a Grand Final appearance.
“I’m not a player who thinks, ‘I’ve done pretty well’, it was disappointing to lose the Grand Final,” he added.