Joey Lussick was as surprised as anyone when he ended up kicking goals for St Helens.
The Aussie hooker slotted two important conversions in Friday’s much-needed 20-12 win over Hull FC. It was the Super League champions’ first victory in three outings and relieved some pressure on them and coach Paul Wellens. But Lussick conceded he wasn’t expecting to be taking over duties from the tee as he became the fourth player in only five games this term to have a crack.
Usual kicker Tommy Makinson had missed one effort in the first half and was nursing an injury when Saints crossed twice in five minutes just before the hour. England centre Mark Percival has also kicked goals this season but he withdrew in the warm-up due to a calf strain. Jonny Lomax is the third Saints player who’s had a shot in 2023 but he, too, gave it a miss so it was Lussick who ended up taking on the responsibility.
The ex-Parramatta hooker, 27, admitted: “I don’t know what happened there! A few boys had knocks – nothing serious – and they said ‘Joey, have a crack!’ I used to do a bit when I was younger but it’s not often I do it now so it was nice to slot those over.
“In today’s game, there’s some good goalkickers around so you’ve got to make those two points. I think I kicked one goal last year and that was it. I used to kick a lot at high school and a bit in (Under) 20s but since then I’ve not really done it.”
You’d have never guessed with the way in which Lussick – who also kicked four goals in three years at Salford – curled over the touchline conversion of Jack Welsby’s try. The main point, though, was Saints, who’ve struggled since their World Club Challenge exploits in Sydney, got back to winning ways. After beating Castleford, they’d suffered rare back-to-back defeats against Leeds and Leigh as they aim for a fifth successive Super League title.
But Lussick insisted there was never any panic. He said: “Even though we were defeated in those last two weeks, there were still plenty of positives. We just felt we weren’t up to our standards. That let us down.
“But that’s what Friday was about: we knew it wouldn’t be perfect against Hull but we just wanted to get back to holding ourselves to our standards. There were plenty of good moments in there – also some scrappy ones – but the two points was the main focus.”
Saints are back in action at Huddersfield Giants in Thursday night’s televised game. Ian Watson’s side were narrowly edged out 14-12 at home to Wigan on Friday. But Lussick said: “They’ll definitely be challengers this season. Last year they were top-four, Challenge Cup finalists and they have recruited well again this time. They were only just pipped by Wigan. It’ll be a tough game but we’re looking forward to it.”