Three ‘elite players’ set to return for St Helens ahead of Salford Red Devils play-off

Saints boss Kristian Woolf has hinted key trio Mark Perciva, Sione Mata’utia and Will Hopoate are fit and ready.

<p>Mark Percival kisses the Challenge Cup trophy after St Helens' victory in 2021. (Picture: SWPix.com)</p>

Mark Percival kisses the Challenge Cup trophy after St Helens' victory in 2021. (Picture: SWPix.com)

Saints will field their strongest squad since before the July Magic Weekend when they take on Salford Red Devils in the semi-final of the Betfred Super League play-off at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Saturday, head coach Kristian Woolf has confirmed.

The initial 21-man strong squad will be officially released at noon on Thursday but Woolf hinted that centre Mark Percival, who has been out of action since May, Sione Mata’utia and Will Hopoate are fit and ready to step back into the breach.

Woolf said: “Mark is one of the most natural and gifted footballers I’ve ever dealt with. He is outstanding, an elite player, and I think you can say he is the best centre in the competition and the most influential centre in the competition. He plays off the cuff, competes hard, and the type you want in your team in the big games.”

"We played a Grand Final without him in 2020, he wore a knee brace in 2001, but now he’s in a better place to attack this Saturday’s Salford game."

Full back back Hopoate hasn’t featured in as many games as he would have liked due to recurring injuries but when available brings a better balance to the side, while Mata’utia is guaranteed to produce 100% effort and can slot into a number of different positions.