Why Mark Percival will not play in his own St Helens testimonial clash against Widnes Vikings

CUT open Mark Percival and he will bleed red and white.

A St Helens stalwart, Percival has endured a difficult number of years with injury, even re-injuring his knee during last year’s Super League Grand Final against Leeds Rhinos that forced him out of the World Cup.

Now, for his own testimonial game on Friday night as Saints take on the Widnes Vikings, head coach Paul Wellens has revealed that the 28-year-old will not be in the mix.

“Mark wont play in his own testimonial game this week. Quite often when you don’t pick a player it’s because they’re carrying a knock but in Mark’s case it’s the opposite. You see him on the training field and it’s like ‘wow’. He’s moving really well and hitting all his markers,” Wellens said.

“I’m looking at him thinking that a couple more weeks of training with the squad in that chaotic type of training will actually benefit him more than going out and playing a game too soon.”

Wellens has emphasised that there is long-term thinking behind the decision not to play him, with an eye to ensuring Percival is available throughout the season.

“As you can imagine Mark is really disappointed that he can’t play in his testimonial, but I feel we are making a decision based on what’s best for Mark’s long-term future and us having Mark Percival available for as long as possible throughout 2023 rather than a decision based on emotion of giving him 10, 15 or 20 minutes in his testimonial game when it’s not what is best for him at this stage.

“Mark is disappointed, but I don’t think that will in any way detract from the occasion and the celebration of Mark’s career.”