Mark Percival enjoys St Helens milestone and link-up with Tommy Makinson

MARK PERCIVAL is enjoying playing next to his good friend Tommy Makinson for a change – and taking over his kicking duties to become St Helens’ new points machine.

The long-serving Saints centre reached not one but two milestones in their emphatic Super League win at Castleford Tigers on Friday night.

Percival scored a try, his 100th in Super League, and also kicked five goals to surpass the 1,000-point mark for the Red Vee.

An infrequent kicker for much of his career, he has taken on kicking duties again over the past couple of months and is keen to keep improving that element of his game.

“Years ago when I used to kick, I was never the first choice. I just did it because someone was injured,” said Percival.

“This time we’ve not really got a recognised kicker and I wanted to try and put my mark on that. I’m enjoying doing it and I’m working hard on it. 

“Obviously there are going to be days where you’re going to miss some kicks, but if I can limit that to one a game and make sure I’m nailing the rest, I’m happy.

“Tommy is in the same boat as me, he’s not really a recognised kicker. He was doing unbelievably for us kicking, but he said he just wanted to focus on his game. 

“Tommy and I spoke and I said I’m happy to do it. I’m seeing it as a challenge and wanting to get better at it. 

“As a kicker you’re never fully accomplished, so I want to keep getting better and feel really comfortable.”

Percival has also moved in recent weeks from his customary left centre position to the right side of the pitch, meaning he is playing alongside another Saints stalwart in winger Makinson rather than being half a field apart from him.

They combined to devastating effect against Castleford, with each setting the other up for a try in the first half as Saints claimed a fifth consecutive win.

“I’ve only played with him a few times,” added Percival, who is currently celebrating his testimonial year.

“He’s one of my good mates off the field and that shows on the pitch. I enjoy playing with him and I have that connection.

“When I was first coming up, that was my position, right centre. 

“I switched early on in my career and I’ve played left for the last ten years, but I’m comfortable playing anywhere. Right or left, I just want to help the team out.”