St Helens stalwart Mark Percival to miss his own testimonial match against hometown club Widnes

“I feel we are making a decision based on what is best for him long-term.”

Saints’ Mark Percival will miss his own testimonial match against hometown club, Widnes, at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday night .

The international centre, who spent four months on the sidelines last season due to fluid on the knee, will not be playing in the friendly fixture on the instructions of head coach Paul Wellens.

Wellens said: "There are a number of players who I’ve decided, after talking with the medical staff, that we aren’t going to play this week and fall into the England World Cup players’ category.

"Given their extended season last year and the pressures of the World Cup, we will give them the opportunity to have a couple more weeks of rest which we will get the benefit of down the track.”

Among those set to miss out are Percival, who only featured in 17 matches last year, and  England World Cup semi-finalists Joe Batchelor, Morgan Knowles, Matty Lees, Tommy Makinson and Jack Welsby.

Tongan international Will Hopoate will also not be considered.

“Will is back in training and making great progress but we won’t be taking any unnecessary risks with him," said Wello. “He’s too much of an important player going forward.”

Percival has made 199 senior appearances since joining St Helens, scoring 108 tries and landing 233 goals and featuring in both the Grand Final and semi-final victories in 2022.

"As you can imagine, Mark is understandably disappointed that he can’t play in his own testimonial but I feel we are making a decision based on what is best for him long-term," said the head coach.