Cunningham: Percival deserves England call-up

Mark Percival celebrates his try against Hull FC while Adam Swift looks on
Mark Percival celebrates his try against Hull FC while Adam Swift looks on

Keiron Cunningham says he “couldn’t believe” Mark Percival wasn’t given an England call-up against New Zealand.

But the Saints supremo believes that if the Saints centre stays fit this year an England call-up could be just around the corner.

Cunningham rates Percival and Leeds Rhinos Kallum Watkins as the two best British-born natural centres in Super League.

“I thought Percy might have got a call-up for the end of season Test series last year,” said the Langtree Park supremo and based his opinion on the fact that England coach Steve McNamara juggled around with his squad, playing some out of position.

“I could believe they didn't give Percy a crack, or at least put him in the squad.”

Cunningham added: “Like all great players he sometimes doesn't realise how good he is.

“Often is play is instinctive - and at times he probably doesn't know what he has done - but he certainly possesses a good awareness of space.

“He has trained the house down in pre-season and is now bigger, stronger and quicker and I definitely think this is going to be a big year for him.”

A 21-year-old former Academy international, Percival made his debut for Saints against Leeds in March 2013 since when he has scored 28 tries and landed 87 goals

“Paul Wellens (who is on both the Saints' staff and a member of the England backroom team) is always beating ther drum on behalf of our players, including Percy, but at the same time Steve McNamara will have his own opinion,” added Cunningham.