ST HELENS’ Australian star Lachlan Coote finished terrorising Castleford Tigers and then admitted he would love to earn selection for Great Britain.
The talented full-back scored one try and had a hand in plenty of others as the Super League leaders maintained their 100 per cent winning start to the season with a stunning 42-12 victory at Wheldon Road on Friday.
Many Saints fans must have wondered how they would ever replace Man of Steel Ben Barba when he left for North Queensland Cowboys at the end of last year and before his public fall from grace.
Yet Coote - who came the other way from Cowboys on a three-year deal - has quickly settled into the Saints way and proved an instant hit.
Although born in New South Wales, he played all three games for Scotland during the 2016 Four Nations and is proud of his Scottish ancestry.
With Great Britain re-forming for the first time in a dozen years, they head for a tour of the southern hemisphere this autumn, facing Tonga in Hamilton before two Tests against New Zealand in Auckland and Christchurch and then onto Papua New Guinea.
Lions boss Wayne Bennett is expected to name a predominantly English squad but, if anyone is to break in from Scotland, Wales or Ireland, Coote has emerged as one of the most likely candidates.
Granted, there is plenty of competition for the full-back role; Bennett picked Coote’s Saints colleague Jonny Lomax there against the Kiwis last autumn - he plays stand-off at club level - and also Warrington’s Stefan Ratchford while Catalans' Sam Tomkins and perhaps Wigan's Zak Hardaker will also fancy their chances.
However, if the 28-year-old - an NRL Grand final winner with Cowboys in 20015 - carries on at his current level of performance, he could easily come into contention especially given the added bonus of his quality left-footed kicking game.
Coote admitted: "I definitely would be (interested).
“I wasn’t even sure if I was eligible until someone tossed it up the other week.
“It would be an awesome trip to go on.
“I haven’t heard anything yet but I am sure it might come out in the next few months or so (any squad updates).
“I loved my time with Scotland and I was filthy I missed the 2017 World Cup but I just had a little run of injuries at the back end of that season.”
Goal-kicker Coote has experience of facing New Zealand, too, having featured when Scotland stunned them in the 2016 Four Nations, forcing a shock 18-18 draw in Workington.
He has seven assists in Super League already and scored his second try against Castleford.
“It’s awesome playing for this side, especially the efforts they are making in defence,” added the former Penrith Panther, who also helped North Queensland beat Leeds Rhinos in the 2016 World Club Challenge and reach another Grand Final the following year.
“It makes my job easier when everyone else is doing their jobs.
“Everything is going well. We haven’t got a complex game plan which is probably the best way you can play footie. Everyone lines up what is in front of them and that’s what we are doing.”
Castleford boss Daryl Powell was effusive in his praise for slick Saints who utterly dismantled his title-chasing third-placed side.
But Coote warned: “We still feel like we are not playing at our best and we are relying a heap on our D.
“That’s been good and you know when your attitude is right if the defence is spot on.”
Castleford certainly found it hard to break Saints down and they could not live with the pace at which their opponents played.
Saints have won their opening seven games ahead of Friday’s visit from injury-ravaged Hull KR.
But Coote, whose Cowboys and Scotland team-mate Kane Linnett also moved to Super League this season with the Robins, said: “No team has been easy since I came here and I am sure it will be no different this week.
“They are going to come out and show what they are all about.
“We need to bring the same attitude we have been bringing for the last eight weeks or so.
“It will be good to see him (Linnett).”