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Joe Batchelor on tough journey to being regular starter at St Helens and Leeds Rhinos’ James Bentley

Joe Batchelor has undergone a meteoric rise in recent years.

Just six years ago he was a 21-year-old at Coventry before making the move to York City Knights where he begun to really catch the eye under James Ford resulting in a move to St Helens but it was always going to be tough to force his way into the side at St Helens.

However, four years on from making the move to the Totally Wicked Stadium he is now set to play in a second consecutive Grand Final after a breakout year in 2021 which saw him win the double with St Helens.

Ahead of today’s game, Batchelor noted his excitement ahead of the clash: “Really excited obviously you start every pre-season with the aim of getting to this game, really excited but focused on getting one more win as well.”

He then went on to open up on the days when he would watch Grand Finals dreaming of one day playing in them: “It’s probably hard to imagine it, I remember being stood on the terraces at other Grand Finals going, I want a piece of that.

“Being part of the squad and watching Saints and not playing much, I knew it was something I wanted to do and I knew I was at the right club to have a chance of doing it, I just needed to get into the team.”

Now he has the chance to play in another Grand Final and he explained the hard battle he has undergone to become a starting second-row at St Helens: “It was always a case of earning the trust of everyone around me and earning it off the coach with performances on the field which gets you trust in the team and once you’re in the team you need to make sure you’re performing.

“There’s plenty of good backrowers in our squad and there has been for the last few years, so you need to make sure you’re performing

“It’s not been easy but I was determined to not let go of it and use all my power to keep it.”

One of those brilliant backrowers was of course Leeds’ James Bentley whose number 12 shirt has been taken on by Batchelor in 2022.

It seems the two helped each other develop quite a bit whilst at St Helens: “We spent a lot of time together me and Bentos [James Bentley] especially in the first few years.

“I know he’s a competitor, I know he’s going to be doing everything in his power to win on Saturday just as we will. He will not back down. He’s a good player and I’m glad he’s finding his form for Leeds although not on Saturday.

“I’ve not spoken to him this week until I bumped into him here, there wasn’t too much rugby chat. Just the usual catch up.”

Two great British backrows both in superb form scoring braces in their respective semi-finals, however only one can win a second Grand Final today.

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