Wigan star John Bateman is looking to step up and become one of his side’s inspirational men in the absence of hooker Michael McIlorum.
The Warriors hooker has been ruled out for the rest of the year after dislocating and breaking his ankle in the World Club Series defeat to Brisbane Broncos. McIlorum has been regarded as one of Wigan’s leaders for a number of years now alongside England captain Sean O’Loughlin and halfback Matty Smith.
McIlorum’s lengthy spell on the sidelines leaves a sizeable void in the Warriors ranks, not only in his undoubted abilities but also his presence among a youthful Warriors side.
Wigan’s current squad has a youthful feel about it, with their starting 13 against Salford last week having an average age of 23.
Bateman himself is still only 22, however he is staggeringly into his sixth full season as a Super League player after making his debut for Bradford in 2011.
With that experience under his belt, the England international is hoping he can emulate McIlorum’s presence while he recovers from injury.
“One of the things Mickey would do is leading people around the field, and it’s something I’ve tried to bring into my own game,” he told TotalRL.
“I’m not one for shouting and balling, and Mickey is the same, he leads from the front. That’s what I want to be and I’m striving to do, lead the lads from the front. If it helps the team me stepping up that’s what I want to do, but all the lads help each other out and that’s what we’ll all be trying to do.
“We need to step up individually and take it upon ourselves to be as influential as Mickey was.”
Wigan are looking to prolong their unbeaten start to the season when they take on Hull FC on Friday night, with the Warriors just one of three sides to maintain a 100% record.
Their clash with the Airlie Birds represents their biggest test in the league so far, with Lee Radford’s side impressing early in the season.
Bateman believes a strong start is the key to success.
“We must start well.
“Against a team like Hull they’ve got a good bench and they use that well. If we can start off well and get stuck into them in the first 20 minutes we can build that into the full 80. We haven’t been doing that this year, we’ve been making it difficult for ourselves.”