Percival waiting for England nod

Mark Percival at England's training camp in Perth, Western Australia
Mark Percival at England's training camp in Perth, Western Australia

Saints’ centre Mark Percival will be keeping his fingers crossed that he makes the England starting line-up for their third World Cup group game against France in Perth on Sunday.

Despite his impressive form in Super League last season when he finished second in the top points scorers table and fourth in the leading goalscoring charts, he is still awaiting is debut in the competition.

Mark Percival has been in sensation for Saints all season

Mark Percival has been in sensation for Saints all season

Percival is one of four England players not to have been used by head coach Wayne Bennett in the opening two fixtures - the others being Warrington’s St Helens-born stand off Kevin Brown, Mike Meeken of Castleford and Hull FC’s Scott Taylor.

But Bennett has hinted that he wants to give all his squad a hit out before the next stage of the tournament and maybe Percival will get the nod this weekend.

At the same time club mate Alex Walmsley was able to make his belated first-ever appearance for his country in a 29-10 victory over Lebanon in Sydney on Saturday.

The powerhouse prop - last season’s top metre maker in Super League - made an initial impact with some strong and telling runs when he stepped off the subs’ bench nine minutes from half-time which prompting former Saints’ coach Ian Millward , who was on TV commentating duties to observe: “He has certainly rolled up his sleeves from the start.”

Bennett, too, said he was impressed by Walmsley and praise from a man of few words and often a nightmare to interview as far as the media are concerned was the highest accolade possible!

The 27-year-old Dewsbury-born prop, who had missed the Australian match due to a virus, said: “It was a dream come true to make my debut, even though I had questioned the big guy upstairs when that virus hit.

“I think the rugby Gods were testing me but I was determined not to miss out again.”

Hooker James Roby, who was one of the best players on the pitch against the Australians when coming on as a sub, was rested to give Wigan’s George Williams a run out and full back Jonny Lomax was sidelined with a calf problem and is unlikely to be fit for the game against France.

England are expected to turn over a French side which will be skippered by St Helens half back Theo Fages who, if reports from Down Under are true, is attracting the attention of NRL clubs.