‘Tap-in merchant’ Waqa Blake gives verdict on start to Super League life and St Helens form

WAQA BLAKE feels he’s finally getting up to speed at St Helens – even if he called himself a “tap-in merchant” after grabbing his first Super League hat-trick.

The winger scored three times as Saints demolished Castleford 60-4 on Friday.

That was Blake’s fifth consecutive appearance, after being in and out of the team in the early weeks of the season following his late arrival in pre-season.

He only joined the club in January, following his release by NRL side Parramatta at the end of last season.

“It was a bit hard at the start. I didn’t get to pre-season until late but I’ve been working my arse off every week,” Blake told League Express.

“The coaching staff have been good and the players have been helping me out. I’m starting to hit my straps now, but it’s all about consistency.

“Coming in very late, I was adjusting to the way they play over here, the rules and all that. I felt like I picked it up very quick.”

Blake’s second-half treble at Castleford took him to seven tries in eight Super League appearances, all scored on the wing after several appearances in his other position of centre.

“What do they call it over here – a tap-in merchant? I just had to pick the ball up and put the ball down,” he smiled.

“It was all my inside boys. That’s what we’re on the wing for, to finish. I was able to get three and I’m very fortunate.

“Once we hit our straps we are very hard to stop. That’s what we needed after the last couple of weeks. This will be good for us.”

Saints’ other winger, Tommy Makinson, was sent off after 14 minutes against the Tigers for a high tackle.

“It was a bit controversial, that call, but they’re stamping down the rules and anything that’s near the head is not wanted in the game,” admitted Blake.

“The boys had to dig deep, down a man. Not much changes when we go a man down, it’s just more of a scramble game.”

Blake went as far as to say Makinson’s dismissal could be seen as a good thing – allowing Saints to impress despite the adversity and put to bed the previous week’s heavy loss at Hull KR.

“This is the perfect week. We don’t want to be down a man, but we were saying it’s kind of a blessing it happened.

“After last week’s effort, we wanted to come out here and it didn’t matter about playing footy, it was all about energy. That’s what it came down to, down a man.”

First published in League Express newspaper, Issue 3,430 (May 13, 2024)

Click here to purchase a digital edition of League Express.

Click here to purchase an online edition of League Express through pocketmags.com.

Click here to listen to our new League Express Podcast.

League Express is widely available from local newsagents across the north of England.