Hat-trick hero Tom Makinson praised head coach Wayne Bennett after England secured a Test series triumph over New Zealand with a game to spare.
The St Helens winger, whose three tries clinched a thrilling 20-14 win over the Kiwis in the second Test at Anfield, is one of 10 fresh faces introduced by Bennett, largely due to injury, since December’s World Cup final.
Makinson, who got his chance in the absence of record try-scorer Ryan Hall, got most of the plaudits for a man-of-the-match performance on Sunday.
— England Rugby League (@England_RL) November 4, 2018
But fellow newcomers Jake Connor and Luke Thompson also caught the eye as England continued their progress under the 68-year-old Australian.
“I don’t think he gets all the credit he deserves, not that he’s bothered,” said Makinson, whose remarkable entry into international rugby league has earned him a place on the four-man shortlist for the 2018 Golden Boot.
“He’s been around for so long, coaching so many great players, but what he’s doing with this group of lads is special.
“He fills us all with confidence, bringing in a player like me who is 26 and not had a shot for a while, putting a lot of confidence in you takes some doing.
“He’s done it with a lot of lads, I think there’s 10 changes to the squad and there’s some big names missing out so it’s credit to him, he’s a pretty special bloke.”
Bennett says there will be no let-up from his side as they aim to complete a series whitewash at Elland Road next Sunday.
Bennett has another six fit players at his disposal but insists Test jerseys are “too valuable to give away because you want to be nice to someone”.
“What’s important is we play well next week,” he said. “We could have lost here today.
“There were six points in it, two points in Hull and it will be close again next week. Hopefully we’re on the right side of it.”
Meanwhile, England will face an anxious wait to see if prop George Burgess will face any action over an incident involving New Zealand full-back Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 20 minutes from the end of Sunday’s game.
Television replays appeared to show Burgess’ fingers around the face of the Kiwis captain, who stayed on the ground following the incident to receive treatment to his eye.
No official complaint was made but the incident is likely to be scrutinised by the match review panel.