10th November 2018, 19:10 | englandrl

Bennett backs Makinson's Golden Boot win

Bennett backs Makinson's Golden Boot win

England head coach Wayne Bennett backed Tommy Makinson following criticism from voices in Australia, after the star winger won the RLIF Golden Boot this week.

Critical comments from a former player based down-under made after the 27-year-old lifted the accolade on Wednesday have come in for disapproval in the days since.

Makinson became the first English player to win the award since Kevin Sinfield in 2012, with the trophy now presented to the best performing player in international games over the past 12 months.

Bennett laid into Makinson’s critics, after the St Helens man produced a number of impressive performances in 2018, including a debut try in the Denver Test, as well as a hat-trick at Anfield last weekend.

“The backlash is only from people that are ignorant and haven’t watched the last three Test matches; America and the two here,” said Bennett.

“If you don’t know what you’re talking about, I just wish you wouldn’t talk about it. It was very ill-informed.

“I’m not surprised, it’s just people get paid to make silly statements and they do it.

“Like I said, if you would have watched his games, I watched them all obviously and if that’s the protocol for winning the Golden Boot, then he deserved it.

“Elliott Whitehead has been the other guy that was in line for it as well, he’s been outstanding as well.

“Tommy likes to play and doesn’t want to let anybody down, that’s his biggest motivation more than anything else.

“He wasn’t playing for the golden boot I can tell you – that’s the opportunity that comes along sometimes and you’ve got to grab it. Other times you might think you deserve something and you don’t get it, so take it when it comes.”

Bennett was speaking at Captain’s Run in Leeds, ahead of his side’s final Test match of the series at Elland Road tomorrow.

He has made a couple of enforced changes for the final game, with Richie Myler, Joe Greenwood and Stefan Ratchford set to come into the matchday squad.

One player expected to miss out is Mark Percival, after being unable to displace fellow centres Jake Connor and Oliver Gildart, who have both impressed during the series.

Bennett had plenty of praise for Percival and how he has improved over the past 12 months, but is confident with his current pairing at three and four.

Bennett said: “Mark is much improved, I think his coach (Justin Holbrook) has done a really good job with him since he’s been there. 

“When he first came into the squad he was certainly not the player he is now and as I said working at St Helens when the new coach came in, Mark needed to get better at a few things and to his credit he’s done that.

“I like what Gildart brings – it’s just a personal choice sometimes, what you see in somebody and it's what you don’t see in somebody else and Mark is not far off the mark for me.

“Jake (Connor) is a very talented player. He’s got a couple of things he can do better at but he’s got talent oozing out of him. We saw that with his pass last week, it’s the sublime kind of things that only the super-talented ones can do. He’s got a few things he can fix up.

“I like what Gildart and Connor bring, that’s not that I don’t like what Percival brings, we just all see things differently.

“Mark’s wonderful to work with, he’s a pleasure and he knows I’ve got confidence in him, I’m just looking for different things in this series and I’m looking for different players.”

“I can’t tell you how much I believe he’s improved, I’ve watched him improve and he’s on the right track.”

Watch England v New Zealand this Sunday live on BBC Two from 3pm. Tickets are also on sale from the game, and can be purchased on Sunday from the Elland Road ticket office.