SAINTS’ contingent of five players in England’s 19-man squad for next week’s Denver test shows how far the club have progressed in a short space of time.

Jonny Lomax, Mark Percival and James Roby have been joined by the uncapped Tommy Makinson and Luke Thompson to give Saints the biggest club contingent for the game against the Kiwis.

Saints boss Justin Holbrook welcomed the call-ups and said the experience would boost those players.

Holbrook said: “I am thrilled for all five of them and I think it is a sign of where we sit as a club.

“The boys are playing well and they pick the team on form. When you play well, you deserve to make the rep teams.”

In 2015 Saints had just one representative - Roby - in the test series against New Zealand so this shows the continued progression within the squad.

Holbrook reserved praise for Percival’s qualities, particularly as a defensive centre.

“It is great to see Percy back in the team. He has been the best centre in the comp this year and was, as everyone knows, unlucky last year in the World Cup.

“This year I think his consistency has made them pick him. He has always had the skill and talent but he’s working hard too.

“He is a great defensive centre too, and people don’t give him credit for that they just see the great things he does with the ball.

“He is an outstanding defender, so when they have spoken in the past about picking defensive centres well you would still pick him.

“He is a class player, I have a lot of jokes with him but when it comes down to it, he is a fantastic player and the fact that he is good in attack that people don’t notice how well he defends. I am pleased that he has played so consistently well this year.

Thompson and Makinson still have plenty to do to make the final 17, with the wing spots held by Jermaine McGillvary and Ryan Hall, and the three Burgess boys, plus James Graham and Chris Hill taking the prop berths, but both deserve the shot on form.

Holbrook said: “I am really happy for those two.

“They work so hard and you see the way they play each week.

“They play the same, even though they play different positions – they just give it everything.”