St Helens stalwart Mark Percival opens up on why he’s committed his long-term future to club

Ben Olawumi
Mark Percival

One-club man Mark Percival has committed his future to St Helens for the next three seasons, penning a contract extension which takes him through until the end of the 2026 campaign.

The 29-year-old has spent his entire career with Saints, progressing through their youth system to score over 1,000 points in his 222 senior competitive appearances to date with 117 tries and 292 goals.

Having joined the Red V’s ranks as a 14-year-old, Rochdale Hornets are the only other club that the centre has ever featured for, making one appearance for the Greater Manchester outfit as a loanee back in June 2014.

Percival debuted at senior level for Saints the year prior, and accordingly, when they kickstart their 2024 campaign at home to newly-promoted London Broncos tomorrow night (February 16), it will signal the beginning of his 12th senior season.

Now, on the back of tonight’s contract news, his 13th and 14th seasons will both also come while donning the Red V in 2025 & 2026 respectively.

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St Helens stalwart Mark Percival opens up on why he’s committed his long-term future to club: ‘I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be’

Saints confirmed Percival‘s new deal this evening ahead of the Hull derby, which gets the 2024 season underway.

The six-time England international told their club website: “I’m happy, I’m over the moon to be staying here for another two years, I’m buzzing! “I love it at this club, and I especially love the lads in the group that we’ve created. I’ve been here since I was about 14, so I couldn’t think of anywhere else I would rather be.

“I have always felt like this is home, I’ve never really looked elsewhere at all, and whenever I’ve been offered to sign here, I’ve always wanted to sign and get it done quickly because I couldn’t see myself playing anywhere else.

Mark Percival
Mark Percival (left) & Tommy Makinson (right) lift the Super League trophy after St Helens’ 2021 Grand Final triumph over Catalans Dragons at Old Trafford – Alamy

“I still feel like I’ve got a lot to give, and I will just give everything until I can’t walk, which will probably end up the result!”

Aside from his long-term connection to Saints, the centre went into how wanting to help the club regain their crown as the kings of Super League – and even possibly the world – has been a real driving factor in putting pen to paper.

2023 began with the World Club Challenge triumph against Penrith Panthers Down Under, but ended with Paul Wellens’ side being beaten away against Catalans Dragons in the Super League play-off semi-finals.

Percival continued: “The World Club Challenge was massive, and it is something that will live with me forever, it is the best thing that I’ve probably ever done as a player.

“The disappointment of not being able to come and win again, whether it was the Challenge Cup or the Grand Final, it’s something that we’re all used to getting to.

“To not do that last year was quite disappointing, so I think we are all raring to go, everyone’s had a good pre-season and been ripping in. We’re excited for the year ahead.“I think it gives us that ‘something’, we want to show that we’re not done, people think we’re not going to turn up. We’ve been the champions for a long time – we’re not anymore and we really want to get back to that.”

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St Helens head coach Paul Wellens hails one-club man Percival: ‘He is a special player and a special person’

Centre Percival’s first two-and-a-half years playing at first-team level for Saints saw him line up alongside now-head coach Wellens, another man who only ever donned the Red V during his own lengthy playing career.

The pair were both part of the back-line at Old Trafford in 2014 when a 14-6 win over bitter rivals Wigan Warriors saw the club pick up their fifth Super League title, and their first for eight years in the final famously known for Ben Flower’s early red card.

That night at the Theatre of Dreams, Percival went 3/3 with the boot, and remains one of Super League’s dead-eyes off a tee to this day.

Wellens hailed the stalwart in tonight’s press release, describing him as ‘a special player and a special person’, saying: “We’re delighted that Percy has decided to extend his stay with us, he’s been here a long time and is almost part of the furniture now.

“We don’t take that for granted, he is a special player and a special person. Percy has been integral to the success that we have had here and has the utmost respect from every member of the playing group and coaching staff.

“As a club, we are always delighted when we can retain our better players, and Mark Percival is certainly one of those.”

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