John Bateman admits Wigan's attacking flair is down to having MORE structure

John Bateman admits Wigan's attacking flair is down to having MORE structure

JOHN Bateman admits Wigan may be deceiving people as their new style of play makes them more of a threat.

For despite looking more like they play off the cuff rugby, it is down to the fact they are MORE structured.

Last year, Adrian Lam’s side was perhaps guilty of playing a glass eye to sleep as invention was lacking.

This year under Matt Peet, things look more exciting, with Jai Field’s brilliance catching the eye and Bateman himself looking more like the superstar he is.

But anyone who thinks they may have thrown off the shackles completely is very much mistaken – and he can get even better.

Bateman said: “100 per cent we’re more structured than we were last year.

“It’s the most structured team I’ve ever played in but we’re also told, ‘If you see something, play it.’

“It’s bringing more out of the players. We had a restructure of the coaching staff and we’ve got a whole new spine on the pitch.

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“You can see the difference in us and we want to keep moving forward. Personally, I’m still learning as I’ve never played in a team that’s as structured as we are.

“We’re still getting used to it but as games go by, I’ll get better myself.

“And I think we’re a better side than the one that played Saints three weeks ago. You learn from your mistakes and Saints capitalised on the ones we made then.

“So we’ve got to implement what we know best. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of fireworks.”

Wigan may be a different side – Saints certainly will be as Lewis Dodd limped out with a season-ending Achilles injury and if Jonny Lomax plays today he will be doing despite a biceps injury.

But the fact it is a Challenge Cup game and not a Super League one can also bring more out of Peet’s side as Bateman – a Manchester United fan from Bradford – aims to change an Elland Road record of played one, lost one.

He added: “The Challenge Cup’s a totally different competition and I suppose it’s a totally different game.

“And you have to approach it as though it’s a cup game – that’s down to the joy and love we have for it.

“It means a lot to the players and people from Wigan. I suppose you could say the same about St Helens and the Challenge Cup is a massive thing.

“As kids we all grew up watching it and we’ve not won the cup since 2013, the year before I joined Wigan for the first time.

“Nine years is a long time, we’d love to get back to the final and get the opportunity to end that drought.

“I won’t lie, Elland Road is a good stadium and playing at big grounds puts rugby league on that bigger stage, which I like even though I’m not too fond of Leeds United.”

Ask many English fans and they would say put St Helens – three-time Super League champions and current cup holders – in the NRL and they would compete.

But 28-year-old Bateman, who starred for Canberra Raiders down Under, has an answer to that. You would only find out if they actually went.

He told SunSport: “Of course they’re good, they’ve won the league for the last three years. They’re well-structured with good individuals and we’ll need to be at our best if we’re to beat them.

“But I found out in the NRL you need to be consistent every week, you can’t have one game off you’ll get caught out.

“Individuals would go well there but there’s only one way of finding out as a team – going there and that’s not going to happen.”

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