John Bateman has declared captaining England as the greatest accomplishment of his decorated career, but his coach admits the side have problems.
The former NRL star scored two tries while leading his country for the first time on Sunday as England did enough to beat France 30-10
Bateman played for the Raiders in the 2019 grand final and was named in the Dally M team of the year that season.
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But he left Canberra the following season in messy circumstances, returning to his Super League side Wigan.
Bateman has just turned 28 and already played in five grand finals, winning two at Wigan, but said Test captaincy is now the pinnacle of his career.
“I didn’t really try and celebrate much this week, I just want to get to the game,” he said.
“I still can’t believe it but I will celebrate tonight and have a couple of beers with the lads and my family.
“It’s a great honour to lead your country and for me personally, there is no greater honour.”
England coach Sharn Wane praised the rise of his skipper who could lead his country at the World Cup next year.
“John has been brilliant,” Wane said.
“He spoke well in the hotel before we left and again before the game.
“If you think where he’s come from, that nervous kid at Bradford all those years ago, it’s testament to his family. He did some really good things.”
They won the game but Wane conceded his men have plenty of work to do if they want to win the World Cup.
However, England will be stronger at the postponed tournament with the inclusion of NRL players Elliott Whitehead, Josh Hodgson, Luke Thompson, Tom Burgess, Herbie Farnworth and Oliver Gildart.
“We will need to improve for games against New Zealand and Australia,” Wane told the BBC.
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“I thought there were some good individual performances, but I will always look to try and improve us.
“The lads have done really well today considering it has been a tough day’s travel and we have had three sessions on the field as a team.”
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