John Bateman is urging the critics to lay off England head coach Wayne Bennett, insisting he is comfortable playing for his country at centre.
The 24-year-old plays almost exclusively in the second row for Wigan but is being used by Bennett in the World Cup as a threequarter ahead of St Helens' Mark Percival, one of only two specialist centres in the squad.
Percival will get a chance in England's final group match against France at Perth's Rectangular Stadium on Sunday as Bennett rotates his squad to give all 24 players game time before the knockout stages.
But Bateman, who made his Test debut at centre against France in 2015, keeps his spot in the threequarter line, with Leeds' Kallum Watkins one of five players rested, and he insists he is happy to continue in the role despite criticism back home.
“People have opinions and everyone thinks they're the best coach in the game but obviously one of the best coaches in the game trusts me at centre and that's where I take my confidence from,” said Bateman, who will win his ninth cap, his seventh as a threequarter.
“I played there for the last two weeks and I'll be able to train there again this week. I'd say I'll probably stay at centre for rest of the competition unless I get called into any other position.
“At the end of the day, I'm wearing the England jersey and that's all that matters.
“I love playing for my country and that's all I want to do. On Saturday it felt a lot more comfortable and just want to go on from there.”
England still technically need a point from Sunday's game to ensure a quarter-final place but Bennett feels he is in a position to tinker with his team ahead of a likely clash with Papua New Guinea in Melbourne.
Like Percival, Warrington stand-off Kevin Brown, Hull prop Scott Taylor and Castleford second rower Mike McMeeken will make their first appearances of the World Cup, while Saints hooker James Roby is recalled at the expense of Josh Hodgson.
Other players rested are Ryan Hall, Elliott Whitehead, who played the full 80 minutes in both games against Australia and Lebanon, and veteran forward Chris Heighington.
After two days off, England's players will resume training on Wednesday and Bateman admits they will need to improve on their performance in the 29-10 win over Lebanon if they are to be considered as genuine contenders.
“The second half wasn't as clear-cut as we wanted but the first thing was to win,” Bateman said. “At the end of the day that's what it's all about. Obviously we'll take the good and bad from it and learn for this week.
“Against France it will be another chance to get the combinations right to get used to playing with the people around you. I think it's starting clicking a lot more.”
Gareth Widdop is switched from stand-off to full-back in the continuing absence of Jonny Lomax, who is recovering from a calf strain, with Stefan Ratchford moving to the left wing.
Bennett has named Huddersfield right winger Jermaine McGillvary in his side in the hope that he will be found not guilty of biting when he faces a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday.
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