BRAVE­HEARTS GIVE ALL

Sunday Mirror - - PUZZLES - BY GARETH WALKER in Perth

THE quiet man of Eng­land’s squad is hop­ing to make a big noise when he fi­nally gets his chance against France this morn­ing.

Eng­land cen­tre Mark Per­ci­val trav­elled to Syd­ney for the mid-sea­son Test against Samoa and had to watch from the side­lines, a sce­nario that re­peated it­self in World Cup games against Aus­tralia and Le­banon.

Now the St He­lens man has been handed an op­por­tu­nity to im­press coach Wayne Ben­nett against the French in Perth to­day – and he wants to make the most of it.

Per­ci­val’s quiet na­ture is of­ten the sub­ject of at­ten­tion for his team-mates – but in­tends to do his talk­ing on the pitch. He said: “I am a quiet lad so they call me a bit dozy, al­ways day dream­ing.

“It’s just the way I am. They prob­a­bly see me as a bit thick but I’m not that thick – I am just chill­ing, that’s me.”

Per­ci­val, 23, was ar­guably the lead­ing cen­tre in Su­per League last sea­son, earn­ing Dream Team se­lec­tion, so his omis­sion at the ex­pense of makeshift DE­PLETED Scot­land failed to qual­ify for the last eight on points dif­fer­ence – but re­stored pride with an heroic ef­fort in Cairns.

Steve McCor­mack’s side had shipped 124 points in de­feats to Tonga and New Zealand and were miss­ing 17 play­ers, in­clud­ing Danny Brough, Johnny Walker and three-quar­ter John Bate­man has been a ma­jor talk­ing point. But he claimed: “It’s not re­ally been frus­trat­ing. Wayne has picked a 24-man squad for a rea­son so I am en­joy­ing it, train­ing and watch­ing them play.

“Wayne told me in the mid-sea­son Test what I need to work on and I have kept that in mind and been try­ing to do that. I’m looking for­ward to Sun­day now and do­ing a job for him.

“I have been learn­ing off the best coach in the world and try­ing to im­prove – now to get the chance I have got to try to take it.”

Vic­tory to­day and a quar­ter-fi­nal show­down with Pa­pua New Guinea in Mel­bourne next Sun­day is seen as a for­mal­ity, with France as big as 33/1 to win with some book­mak­ers.

But Per­ci­val says it would be fool­ish to take their tra­di­tional ri­vals lightly.

He added: “The last time I played France in Avi­gnon last year it was re­ally phys­i­cal and they kept com­ing un­til the 80th minute. They will bring that again.

“They haven’t won a group game so they are go­ing to want to win one es­pe­cially with the ri­valry France and Eng­land have. It’s a big game and we’re ready for it.” Sam Brooks – sent home in dis­grace af­ter they were too drunk to board a plane dur­ing the tour­na­ment.

But they came within inches of mak­ing the quar­ter-fi­nals only for Danny Addy’s (right) late penalty to drift just wide.

Lewis Tier­ney and Frankie Mar­i­ano scored tries as the Scots led from the fifth minute to the 66th. ■■TONGA pro­duced the re­sult of the tour­na­ment so far by beat­ing New Zealand 28-22, mean­ing that they are likely semi-fi­nal op­po­nents for Eng­land in Auck­land on Satur­day, Novem­ber 25.

TAKES TWO TO MAKE A MARK: Aussies strug­gle to con­tain Mark Per­ci­val

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