St Helens’ Head Coach Paul Wellens has confirmed that Mark Percival is in fantastic shape ahead of the Red Vee’s visit to Australia, but will not feature in Friday night’s fixture against Widnes Vikings which is Percival’s testimonial game.
Despite not featuring on the field, Mark will be celebrated for his outstanding service to our club throughout Friday night at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Our star centre has been working hard on his recovery following a knee injury sustained last season which disrupted his playing time, however he did feature in the semi-final and scored in the Grand Final at Old Trafford to help secure a fourth straight Super League title in a row.
To date Percival has featured 199 times for St Helens and played his part in the club picking up five Super League trophies, four League Leaders’ Shields, and one Challenge Cup. In his time as a Saint he has also been named in the Super League Dream Team on three occasions, and featured for England six times.
The ‘Fourmidable’ Saints begin heading to Australia just three days removed from Friday night’s match, firstly to take on St George Illawarra as part of the NRL Pre-Season Challenge, and then the clash for world glory as St Helens face back-to-back NRL Premiership winners Penrith Panthers in the World Club Challenge.
Wellens has revealed that his top 26 players in the First Team squad will form the travelling party, and that risking Mark Percival was a risk he was not willing to take so close to the World Club Challenge. The Saints boss also confirmed that our World Cup England internationals, Will Hopoate, and captain James Roby will not be part of the squad for Friday’s game against Widnes.
“Obviously Mark is disappointed, but I don’t think that will in any way detract from the occasion and celebration of Mark’s Saints career. I am sure the Saints faithful recognise what Mark has contributed to this club for the last ten years, and I’m sure he will be hugely supported.
“Quite often when you don’t pick a player to play it is because you feel they are carrying a knock, actually in Mark’s case it’s quite the opposite. He has come back into training with the team and it’s great to have him back, he’s training really well, hitting all his markers what the medical staff have set him.
“Mark understands the bigger picture thinking and how important he is to the team moving forward. We need a fit and firing Mark Percival early on, not just as we go to Australia, but the rest of the rounds in 2023.”
Watch Paul Wellen’s first full pre-match press conference since taking over as Head Coach of the Saints on Saints TV.
Whilst he is disappointed to not feature in his testimonial match on the field, Percival is aiming to be at his very best for both the trip Down Under and the Super League 2023 campaign, following a strong pre-season period for the centre.
“I’ve had some chats with Wello (Wellens) and it’s a difficult one because everything is going great and I feel brilliant but its just what is coming round the corner with the World Club Challenge and I really want to be a part of that and not miss out.
“Even though it is my game, and it’s difficult to not play, the bigger picture is I want to play against Penrith, I want to play week in and week out for Saints all year and hopefully win five in a row. It’s a big decision that’s had to be made but it’s definitely the right one going forward. It’s more time to get more good training in and keep going as I have been doing the last few weeks.
“I am still looking forward to going there, seeing the fans, watch the lads play, and thank you all for their support over the last ten years.”
Pre-ordered tickets for Friday’s Mark Percival Testimonial match vs Widnes Vikings are ready to be collected from the Ticket Office at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
The Ticket Office is open from 9am-5pm each day this week and will also remain open up to kick-off on matchday.
Any remaining collections will be accessible from Ticket Collection Point open from 6pm onwards on matchday.
This is located next-door to the main Ticket Office.
Fans can also Pay on the Gate on the West Stand, please be aware this is by contactless card payment only, no cash can be taken.
All general ticket info for the fixture can be found here.