TOMMY MAKINSON has hailed the “special bond” in the St Helens squad as the Super League champions head for Australia.
Following Mark Percival’s testimonial match against Widnes Vikings on Friday night, which Makinson and the club’s other England internationals sat out, Saints will spend three weeks Down Under, playing St George Illawarra Dragons on Saturday, January 11, in preparation for the World Club Challenge against Penrith Panthers seven days later.
Makinson believes the bond that has kept the key players together through the years has been vital in their success of winning the title for four successive years.
“It’s like a jigsaw, if you took a few pieces out it probably wouldn’t be the same,” said the winger.
“I can start with our captain James Roby. I’m sure there have been points in his career where he could have gone elsewhere and it wouldn’t then have been the same team.
“Jonny Lomax, Morgan Knowles, Jack Welsby, everyone has come together at one time. We’ve got a real special bond, with loads of different characters in the group.
“We just love doing what we do here, especially winning, and long may that continue.”
Makinson has had his own opportunities to leave St Helens for pastures new in the NRL, but he remains a proud one-club man.
“There’s been a couple of times. In 2018 I was close to going over there,” he said.
“I saw myself doing it and wanted to do it, but then things change, you have family and friends. Some people are different, they want to go and it’s the dream.
“I’m this side of it now. I’ve had a testimonial at Saints, I’ve won all the things I have at St Helens.
“I feel like I’m in great form and at a great time in my career. I’ve had opportunities but I’ll always be grateful for what I have here.”
Makinson returned to training at the beginning of January after an extended time off following the World Cup with England and their heartbreaking semi-final defeat to Samoa.
“There was a lot of reflection, a lot of disappointment about England, where we could and should have gone,” said Makinson.
“That took some getting over. But it’s sport and you’re straight back into your job.
“It’s been good being back with all the lads after a month and a half with England. You train on your own and look after yourself like a professional should do, but there’s nothing like training and being around the lads, being in this environment.”