Woolf admits to selection dilemma when Percival returns

St Helens coach Kristian Woolf admits that he will face a potential selection dilemma at centre when Mark Percival returns from injury.

Percival, who is a member of England coach Shaun Wane’s squad that is currently preparing for this year’s World Cup, has long had problems with hamstring injuries, playing only five games in 2020.

Although he played in the opening game of the season against Salford, he suffered a mild hamstring strain and has not played in the subsequent three games.

Josh Simm played at centre against Hull Kingston Rovers, although he has now gone on a short-term loan to Leigh Centurions.

And Woolf gave the shirt to Grand Final hero Jack Welsby in Saints’ last two games against Leeds Rhinos in the Challenge Cup and Wakefield Trinity on Friday night.

Talking about Percival, Woolf said: What I’ve said all along we’re not going to play him until we are confident he can get through a full game, play the week after that and so on. We do things at training to give us a mark on where players are at. We deemed last week that he wasn’t quite ready to play.”

And Woolf admits that Welsby, who earned three Albert Goldthorpe Medal points at centre against Wakefield, is pressing for a regular spot in a fixed position.

“I have sung his praises, and I know wherever we put him he will do a really good job. He is very aware of how we can use him at different times,” said Woolf.

“At some time we will have to make a decision. We want both Mark and Jack in the side.

“Jack is in the England Knights, he is obviously on the radar, but we have to remember he’s still just a 20-year-old bloke.

“Having said that, I’ve been really impressed, because wherever we’ve put him he’s a winner.

“If he keeps doing that other accolades will come.

“I’ve had several conversations with Jack about where we will continue to develop him.

“We also have Paul Wellens on our staff, who also played in a number of positions earlier in his career before he settled at fullback. There are some clear parallels there.”

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