Young St Helens star steps up for absent Tommy Makinson amid battle to be successor
Tommy Makinson may be approaching the twilight of his stellar career in a Saints’ shirt but there is no shortage of players waiting in the wings at the Totally Wicked Stadium and knocking on the first team door to replace a player with 180 tries in 303 appearances under his belt since 2011.
But the 31-year-old England international, who is currently absent due to a hamstring injury, has never shirked a challenge and, on his return, he will be relishing the prospects of trying to repel the threat posed by the likes of Jon Bennison and Tee Ritson, as well as others in the squad.
Bennison, in particular, has been showing his true potential in recent weeks and was on the scoresheet in Friday night’s 22-0 home win over Castleford. The 20-year-old crossed the whitewash in the 55th minute, leading to the defending champions going on to notch their 50th Super League victory over Andy Last’s strugglers.
His try couldn’t have been executed at a better time with Saints holding a slender lead and the game still in the balance.
"I thought Jon was outstanding but all our back five were good,’’ said St Helens boss Paul Wellens, who now faces two fierce and demanding league challenges in less that week - a short trip to fourth in the table Warrington Wolves on Friday followed by a home showdown against leaders Catalans Dragons six days later.
Saints, however, will be without Joe Batchelor who suffered a hamstring problem during the captain’s run ahead of Friday’s game. He was immediately withdrawn from the squad and possibly faces two more matches on the sidelines.