BRAVEHEARTS GIVE ALL
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