25th May 2019, 10:28 | StHelens
Makinson scored a hat-trick of tries in his only previous appearance at the Merseyside venue, which helped England to a series-clinching victory over New Zealand.
Six months on he was back at Anfield for Betfred Super League’s media day and there was only one topic of conversation, his try-scoring heroics for his country.
“It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot,” he said. “It’s been good, having flashbacks of that.
“It’s a happy hunting ground for me and I’m definitely looking forward to coming back.”
The clash between table-topping Saints and play-off hopefuls Castleford Tigers will bring down the curtain on the inaugural Magic Weekend in Liverpool.
Before then, the focus will be on the other end of the table, with the bottom three all desperately hoping for much-needed points.
Bottom club London Broncos, fresh from a second win of the season over Wakefield Trinity, are bidding to achieve the same feat against 2017 champions Leeds Rhinos, who were beaten 18-16 at Headingley in March.
“A lot of people are building this up as a big game, which is only going to be good for us,” said London full-back Alex Walker, who admits the promoted club are driven by a determination to disprove the doubters.
“You say you try and ignore it but it’s always there at the back of your mind and it fires you up a bit as you go out and try to prove everyone wrong.
“Going in as underdogs for most games, there’s no pressure on us whatsoever so we relax and enjoy it.”
The pressure is definitely on Leeds, who since sacking coach Dave Furner have lost in the Challenge Cup to part-time neighbours Bradford Bulls and been hammered at home by Super League rivals Castleford.
Full-back Jack Walker, who has recovered from shoulder and hamstring injuries to reclaim his place in the Rhinos side, admits Sunday’s game is a must-win contest.
“People say we’re too good to go down but we’ve got to work for it, we can’t rest on that,” he said.
“If we don’t start picking up some wins, we are going to be fighting again for our spot in Super League.
“This is a massive game for us. If we can nail a full 80-minute performance, I feel we can kick on and get some wins.”
Hull KR, the other team in danger of the drop, take on Salford Red Devils in the opening game of the second day.
Rovers knocked the Red Devils out of the Cup a fortnight ago and captain Joel Tomkins is hoping for a similar result.
“It was one of our best performances of the season,” he said.
“If we can replicate that second half we’ll come away with a win – but it’s easier said than done.
“It’s a massive game for us. Everybody says they’re not looking at the table at this stage of the season but they are really and we’re under a bit of pressure.”