Tommy Makinson gunned down New Zealand with a sensational hat-trick of tries at Anfield yesterday (Sunday) and at the same time gave Rugby League in this country a massive shot of adrenaline.
The 27-year-old Saints and England wingman - a rookie at international level - stole the show in front of a vociferous Liverpool crowd, but was quick to deflect the credit to the team-mates around him.
Makinson said: “Playing for this England badge is emotional and to pull on the shirt with these lads is inspirational.
“it was a hell of a team performance but I had some special lads alongside me, like George Williams and Jake Connor, and they played a major role in my scoring spree.”
Defensively, Makinson also made two crucial bone-crunching tackles in the first half which had they been converted into tries England could conceivably have been 18-2 adrift - and more or less out of contention.
He said: “I’m not the biggest of players but I put my heart on the line all the time because wearing an England shirt means the world to me.”
Connor said: “I know Tommy possesses tremendous speed and if I put him into space he will score.”
Even head coach Wayne Bennett was in raptures over the St Helens winger’s contribution to the 20-14 win.
The Australian said: “His performance was unbelievable and he played just the same in the first Test without get the credit he deserved.
“Today, he was in a league of his own.”
Makinson was one of three Saints players in the England line-up and they all made telling contributions.
Loose forward Luke Thompson didn’t take a step backwards, making many metres during the match, and Jonny Lomax not only swept up at the back effectively but was involved in many of England’s penetrating moves at the other end of the park.
It must also be remembered that England went into the three-match series without many players who reached the World Cup Final last year and now seem to have the strength in depth to build a solid future.
They have now wrapped up the series but will still have plenty to play for at Elland Road next Sunday.
A 3-0 whitewash would be the perfect scenario !
England tries:Makinson (38,55 and 74 mins), Connor (63 mins)
Conversions: Connor (6 mins), Tomkins (75 mins).
New Zealand tries: Watene-Zelezniak (8 mins) Maumalo (45 mins).
Conversions: Johnson (9, 46 and 50 mins).
Teams - England: Lomax; McGillvary, Gildart, Connor, Makinson; Williams, Tomkins, Williams; T Burgess, Hodgson, Graham, Bateman, Whitehead, Thompson. Substitutes: Milner, Hill, G Burgess, Clark.
New Zealand: Watene-Zelezniak; Rapana, Manu, Marsters, Maumalo; Johnson, Nikorima; Bromwich, Smith, Warera-Hargreaves, Proctor, Liu,
Blair. Substitutes: Bromwich, Ah Mau, Taupau, Fisher-Harris.
Referee: Gerard Sutton (Australia)