“I think it’s entirely justified.”
In a sporting world of cliches, the refreshing and entertaining thoughts of Greg Bateman remind us there’s a reason we all love the players in our great game as much as we do the sport itself.
His reaction, said through a wry smile, when told of his win over team mates Brendon O’Connor and Matt Toomua had this interviewer laughing from the get-go.
When asked about how it felt to receive the award, as voted by Tigers supporters online, the front-rower had no hesitation in providing an equally entertaining second response.
“My overriding emotion is pleasure … that Brendon and Matt haven’t won it,” Bateman quipped with a smile synonymous with the well-known joker.
“No, no, in all seriousness, it’s obviously extremely nice to receive the award but as a group we have been so good.”
Voting for the Lumbers award was for fixtures throughout the month of February, which included Premiership clashes with Gloucester and Harlequins, as well as the historic away win against Saracens - in which Bateman’s crucial try helped set-up the bonus-point victory.
“I mean, we’ve gone down and beaten Sarries away in the league for the first time, as well as the crucial win at Welford Road against Quins, then backed up February’s performances by putting in a really good performance against Worcester in the opening week of March and backing that up with last Sunday’s Welford Road win.”
For a long-time now Bateman’s versatility at scrum-time has been regarded as the feather in the cap of the front-row forward, however in what has been a breakthrough season for the 28 year old, he has also added an attacking flair to his bag of tricks.
A try against Harlequins in Round 4, which saw the prop sidestep England’s first-choice fullback Mike Brown during a 20+ metre run to the line was backed up with brilliant vision against Saracens to race in from almost the same distance off the back of a ruck.
A third try in the bonus-point win over Worcester in Round 17 had many comparing his ability to find the line to that of Tigers fullback Telusa Veainu … or was that just the man himself?
Despite his good-natured jabs at team-mates, the popular Tiger couldn’t help but heap praise on both the squad he lined up alongside throughout his impressive opening to 2018 and returning internationals from this season’s Six Nations.
“The international boys have come back and added what they want to but, we have upped the bar while they’ve been away and they’ve noticed what we’re doing differently around the place.”
Jokes now well aside, Bateman continued to praise the attitude of his team mates and - following last Sunday’s win over Wasps - how important the current momentum being built was to the final weeks of this season’s Aviva Premiership.
“We’re really building and starting to get momentum at the right time of year, it’s great."
“We’re in a really good place at the minute, where we’ve got that confidence about where we’ve been but there’s no complacency.”