England Academy captain ready for Aussie test
England Academy depart for a three-week trip to Australia next Thursday (July 19) and tour captain John Bateman says he is relishing the chance to lead the cream of England’s next generation into battle against their Australian counterparts.
The Academy will take on New South Wales juniors and Parramatta juniors before playing a two-Test series against the Australian Schoolboys and Bateman is confident that the class of 2012 can emerge victorious over their fierce rivals.
“It was a very proud moment for me to be named captain,” said Bateman. “It’s an honour and I’m really looking forward to leading the boys into action in Australia in what will be a great experience for all of us.
“We’ve got a really strong squad together for the tour and there are some very talented players in the squad. The likes of Stevie (Ward) and Ben (Currie) have already experience of playing in Super League and a lot of the squad are just on the fringes of first team action so we’re definitely going there with a strong team.
“It’s a great opportunity for all of us in the squad and playing against Australia at any level is massive. I played against the Australian Institute of Sport last year and it was a great experience and there’s no better challenge than testing yourself against the very best in the world.”
The Australian Schoolboys have named the 17 men they think will put paid to England’s ambitions but Bateman is confident England can prevail against a side that has seen the likes of Greg Inglis and Jamie Lyon pass through the ranks in previous years.
“We’ve heard bits and pieces about the Schoolboys so far and we know they’re some of the best players in Australia,” he said. “We know it’s going to be a tough test for us but it’s a challenge all the guys are looking forward to and one we’re excited to face.
“We’re confident we can go there and win and perform to the level we know we can. We’re not going down there to loose - we’re going for a reason and that’s to beat them.
“It would be unbelievable to come back as the captain of a winning touring side and that’s my aim.”
England Academy Tour Schedule:
July 19 – Depart
July 25 – Warm-up game v New South Wales Under-18s at Narrabeen
July 28 – Warm-up game v Parramatta Juniors at Parramatta
August 5 – Test 1 v Australian Schoolboys at Canberra
August 11 – Test 2 v Australian Schoolboys at Wynum
England Academy 24-man touring squad (professional and community clubs):
Ben Currie (Warrington Wolves, Parkside Golbourn)
Connor Farrell (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Pats)
Dominic Speakman (St Helens, Halton Hornets)
Gavin Bennion (Warrington Wolves, Ryland Sharks)
George Williams (Wigan Warriors, Ince Rose Bridge)
Greg Wilde* (St Helens, Golbourne Parkside)
James Cunningham (Hull FC, East Hull)
James Duckworth (Leeds Rhinos, Whinmoor Warriros)
James Saltonstall (Warrington Wolves, Siddal)
Joe Burgess (Wigan Warriors, Ince Rose Bridge)
John Bateman (Bradford Bulls, Dudley Hill)
John Ford (Salford City Reds, Blackbrook Royals)
Jordan Baldwinson (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Warriors)
Josh Johnson (Huddersfield Giants, Saddleworth)
Lewis Tierney (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Pats)
Liam McAvoy (Bradford Bulls, Broughton Red Rose)
Liam Sutcliffe (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Warriors)
Luke Briscoe (Leeds Rhinos, Featherstone Lions)
Luke Thompson (St Helens, Pilkington Recs)
Mark Percival (St Helens, Halton Hornets)
Peter Aspinwall (Huddersfield Giants, Huddersfield YMCA)
Ryan Hampshire (Wigan Warriors, Normanton Knights)
Ryan Sutton (Wigan Warriors, Wigan St Pats)
Steve Ward (Leeds Rhinos, Hunslet Warriors)
*Replaces Oliver Roberts who has withdrawn from the squad for personal reasons.
Australian Schoolboys Squad (School in brackets)
Jai Arrow (Keebra Park State High School)
Luke Brooks (Holy Cross College, Ryde)
Jeremy Cropper (St Francis Xavier College)
Brad Deitz (Holy Cross College, Ryde)
Adam Elliot (St Gregory’s College, Campbelltown)
Jack Goodsell (Keebra Park State High School)
Clint Gutherson (Freshwater High School)
Alex Johnston (Endeavour Sports High School)
Halauafu Lavaka (Patrician Brothers’ College, Blacktown)
Matthew Lodge (Terra Sancta College, Quakers Hill)
Chad McGill (Patrician Brothers’ College, Blacktown)
Mitchell Moses (Holy Cross College, Ryde)
Pauli Pauli (Patrician Brothers’ College, Blacktown)
Paul Simona (Patrician Brothers’ College, Blacktown)
Chris Smith (Patrician Brothers’ College, Blacktown)
Kelepi Tanginoa (Westfield Sports High School)
Dylan Walker (Matraville Sports High School)