Man of Steel contenders: Lachlan Coote
We take a closer look at Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel nominee, Lachlan Coote.
When Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel Ben Barba left St Helens at the end of the 2018 season, there must have been some concern within the club at how they would replace such a mercurial talent.
They needn’t have worried. Step forward, Lachlan Coote.
The Australian has made the full-back role his own in the last two years with his excellent defensive work and ability to create tries when assisting the halves in attack.
Earlier this season, Sky Sports’ Jon Wells described Coote as being Saints’ “best overseas signing in some years”.
Considering the quality of player Saints have had at the club, that’s some accolade to bestow upon Coote.
It is hard to argue that he doesn’t deserve such a title, as his record as a Saint is nothing short of remarkable.
Since his arrival last year, in 37 appearances, Coote has experienced defeat in Super League on just three occasions.
To contextualise those numbers: in the matches that he has missed, Saints’ record stands at played 11, six wins & five losses.
Now, no man is ever more important than the team.
However, in Coote’s case, it’s clear how much of a positive impact he has on how the 2019 champions operate.
His 2020 season began in difficult fashion; he limped off with an MCL injury in Saints’ opening round victory over Salford Red Devils.
Kristian Woolf's side struggled to find their 2019 form in his absence – losing games to both Warrington Wolves and Huddersfield Giants.
Coote returned in mid-March with two assists in a defeat to Castleford Tigers in Super League's final game before the Covid-19 pandemic brought a halt to the season.
2 tries 🏉 2 assists 🤝 3 @StevePrescott1 #ManOfSteel points 👏
The best of @Saints1890's Lachlan Coote on Sunday 🤩 #SuperLeague pic.twitter.com/XAXMYWNjfL
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) August 4, 2020
The 30-year-old picked up where he had left off straight after the restart and continued that form up until the end of the regular season.
All of his Man of Steel points in 2020 have come post-lockdown. A remarkable run of form coinciding with Saints' 10 Super League victories in a row.
For a man who has played 13 games this season, Coote's stats are superb: 14 assists – the most of any full-back – and eight tries.
His goal kicking is another huge asset to Saints. His 60 goals are only bettered by Zak Hardaker and Coote has proven once again that he is one of Super League's most reliable players off the tee.
Were it not for the effervescent Bevan French, Coote's efforts in 2020 would surely have drawn greater attention.
He might not have the explosive running game of French, nor the blistering speed, but do many players?
What is noticeable is how often Coote is the man running the support line after a break from another player – it really should come as no surprise that he ends up with so many tries and assists.
Even French himself admits that he could learn a thing or two from Coote, describing his organisational skills as “second to none”.
Coote has also caught the eye of Catalans Dragons full-back, Sam Tomkins.
“He’s the heartbeat of the St Helens attack. It’s easy to see where the ball is going as you know it’s probably going to end up in his hands,” Tomkins said.
“It’s not only the work he does with ball in hand, but his kicking game is also very impressive, and you always have to keep an eye on him.”
Tomkins himself knows the level you need to reach to become Man of Steel; he won the award in 2012 when he was a Wigan Warrior.
Zak Hardaker, Brett Hodgson & Paul Wellens are the other full-backs who have been named Man of Steel in recent years - will Coote add his name to the list on Monday night?