Tommy Makinson is ready to rebound from his Rugby League World Cup heartbreak and maintains Shaun Wane remains the right man to lead England forward.
St Helens full-back Makinson scored a record-breaking five tries against Greece in November but was then part of the side that suffered a shock golden point semi-final defeat to Samoa at the Emirates Stadium.
Speculation continues over Wane’s future as England coach, with the Rugby Football League understood to be ready to settle the issue following a meeting next month.
But Makinson, who is back in training ahead of Saints’ World Club Challenge clash with Penrith Panthers on February 18, said: “For me, it’s a no-brainer.
“Shaun is a world-class coach and a world-class person as well. We didn’t let him down because that’s the game, but I do think if we’d got to the World Cup final it gets talked about differently.
“We didn’t achieve what we wanted in the World Cup and Shaun will be the first to say that. But I think as a group we really enjoyed what Shaun brings and how good a coach he is.
“It was some of the best six weeks we’ve ever had in our life. It just ended with a poor performance, didn’t it.”
With this year’s international calendar looking far from certain, Makinson has switched his full focus on to the first World Club Challenge clash since 2020, when his side were sunk at home by Sydney Roosters.
But he admits it took a major effort to shrug off the huge upset against the Samoans, when Stephen Crichton’s drop-goal sealed a 27-26 upset win and shattered hopes of a host World Cup triumph.
“It (the World Cup) took a hell of a lot of getting over but you have to move on quickly,” added Makinson. “We’re building for something special again.
“There’s a lot going on, a trip to Australia to play the best team around at this moment in time, and then an action-packed season trying to back up our fourth title in a row.”
New Saints coach Paul Wellens is undaunted by the prospect of lifting a club that has come to dominate the domestic game for the best part of the last half-decade to new heights against the back-to-back NRL champions.
“It almost feels like each year that they have to prove themselves in a different way,” said Wellens, who took over from the departing Kristian Woolf in the wake of last season’s Grand Final win over Leeds Rhinos.
“Winning four in a row is not enough to cement themselves as the best in Super League history, but we want to keep getting challenged as as club, and this is another way that we can prove ourselves.”