Bradford-born John Bateman set to serve part of ban on England Knights duty

Wigan Warriors second-rower John Bateman has been named in a 21-strong England Knights squad for their autumn internationals for which he looks certain to be suspended.

Bateman is due before a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday evening following his dismissal for a high tackle during his club’s 20-8 defeat by Leeds Rhinos in last Friday’s Super League semi-final.

The former Bradford Bulls player is charged with a Grade D offence, which normally carries a ban of three to five games, which would put him out of the Knights’ fixtures against France B in Bordeaux on Sunday, October 2 and Scotland in Edinburgh six days later.

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However, that would enable him to wind down his suspension and potentially free him up to play for the England senior team in the World Cup, which starts on October 15.

England also have a warm-up match against Fiji on October 7 but that is the same weekend as the Knights’ game in Edinburgh so only one game would count towards any ban.

Even so, the move is being seen by cynics as a ploy by England to circumvent a disciplinary process in which suspensions imposed towards the end of the domestic season are carried over into internationals.

As a vastly-experienced player, Bateman, who turns 29 next week, would not normally be considered for the Knights, which is traditionally used to promote youngsters with promise to help them fulfil their potential on the full international stage.

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A Rugby Football League spokesman said the governing body had no comment on the subject.

John Bateman has received a shock England Knights call-up. (Picture: Paul Currie/ Bateman has received a shock England Knights call-up. (Picture: Paul Currie/
John Bateman has received a shock England Knights call-up. (Picture: Paul Currie/

England Knights squad: J Bateman (Wigan), J Bennison (St Helens), D Cross (Salford), M English (Huddersfield), S Halsall (Wigan), E Havard (Wigan), J Lane (Hull), M Lewis, J Litten (both Hull KR), E Longstaff, M Nicholson (both Warrington), O Partington, K Pearce-Paul (both Wigan), W Pryce, O Russell (both Huddersfield), M Smithies (Wigan), J Thewlis (Warrington), L Tindall (Leeds), O Trout (Huddersfield), D Walker (Warrington), M Whitley (Catalans Dragons).

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