Match-winner Bateman family man first, footballer second

Amid all the excitement and euphoria of the Raiders dressing room after beating Melbourne in last week's qualifying final, Englishman John Bateman sat quietly in the corner face-timing his daughter Millie back home in Bradford.

She was the first one he called to tell her he'd won.

Then he called his mum and his older brother, Kyle.

They are the three people closest to him. Then – and only then – he embraced teammates and shared a beer before taking off his jersey and heading to the showers.

He didn't dwell on the fact he scored the match-winning try in the 76th minute after the Storm had led 10-6 for over 30 minutes and were looking certainties to progress to the preliminary final.

Bateman is a modest man alongside being a fierce competitor. His family probably watched it live anyway.

But when Joey Leilua sent a one-handed flick pass behind him for Bateman to collect and run untouched to the try line, Millie and Kyle may well have heard the crowd reaction back in northern England.

So what was Bateman thinking when he grounded the ball?

"I thought 'Shit – we've done it!' I looked up at the clock straight away to see how much time was left," he said.

"There was about four minutes so I was thinking that's enough time for Storm to retaliate.

"So then I was thinking 'What's next? What's next? How can we keep them away from our line?'

"Storm have won plenty of big games with less than four minutes on the clock."

Then Bateman's England teammate and best friend Elliott Whitehead ran the ball dead after collecting a Cameron Munster bomb as the full-time siren sounded.

"That's probably when I really jumped into the air," he said.

"And I was thinking 'Enjoy the moment' but don't get carried away. We've not finished the job yet."

However, the Raiders players' cool, calm and collected actions in those frantic final minutes showed not a trace of panic.

"We actually practise these kinds of scenarios in our pre-season – and we're still doing them all the way through actually," Bateman said.

"So when you come into big games it really helps you out.

"We have to enjoy these moments as a team and as a club. But we've done nothing yet – nothing.

"It's no good celebrating too much and then losing the next game."

But Bateman would love 11-year-old Millie to return to Australia and be in the GIO Stadium crowd on Friday September 27 for the first NRL Preliminary Final.

"I've just been talking with her and telling her all about it. I'd like her to come out but she's only just gone back to start the new school year," he said after the northern hemisphere summer.

"My brother is definitely coming to the preliminary final though, so now I have to win. I can't make it a waste of time for him.

"My body is feeling great – rested – for this time of the year. I can't wait to get going again.

"This is why we play the game, to be a part of the big games at the end."