A word with a Warrior – James Percival

Every fortnight we go behind the scenes to bring you closer to the Warriors players.

This week, we speak to lock James Percival, who is in his third year back at the club after coming through the Warriors Academy.

The former Northampton and Harlequins man discusses Warriors, dogs and a life after rugby…

Age: 30
Warriors apps/pts: 56/10
Country: England

Favourite film: Gladiator
Favourite food: A whole chicken with Mediterranean salad
Favourite band: Audiomachine

How important is next week’s clash against Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership?
I don’t look at every game as a win or loss. I just look for progress and the thing with this club is that we have been battling at the bottom of the table and it’s always been about looking at results. That can’t be a way for a club to thrive and now we are trying to change that. You can’t have that mentality. You can’t just expect to have a few narrow victories or catch a team on an off-day. You have to look at yourselves as a club, how you’re developing and progressing as an individual and how that reflects on the team. I’ve been at a top-four team in Northampton and now with Dean here, this is reminding me of what Quins were doing when I was there. We were successful there in building ourselves as a top-end club. Every game is the same for me. I don’t see a match against Gloucester, Northampton or Newcastle as a particular game. I feel like every match is a big one. I want us to win so I go out and do everything I can to drive us to success. And it doesn’t matter if it is a derby, we should strive to be our best in every game. Give everything you can every week and that’s all you can do.

What are you expecting from Gloucester?
Gloucester have a lot of threats in the backs and although they haven’t had a lot of success this season they are a big part of keeping the team going. I imagine they’ve been working hard in the forwards to correct their problems and they will be looking to prove a point when we play them. They will bring energy, physicality and a never-give-up attitude with the position they are in. If they lose to us then it will be a big dent for them and for us it’s a game where we will be looking to progress and hopefully we can pick up a win.

Performances have improved in recent weeks, haven't they?
They have improved a lot and we are really pleased about that. We have to start performing for 80 minutes and that is one of our biggest challenges. Once we focus on our 80-minute performance and get it right then results will change and we will get the results that we strive for.

How are you finding life under the new coaching regime?
I’ve worked under a number of coaches. If you work hard and give 100 per cent in what you do then you will be in a good place. The big thing for me from any coach is to be honest and our coaches are just that. If you have a bad game they are on your back and if you get things right they will let you know and give you a pat on the back. For me that is great and they are pushing us and asking us to think about ourselves. If we want to work hard to improve then we will stay here and fight but if we don’t want to work at it then we won’t be allowed to stay.

Youngsters at the club are getting opportunities under Dean, aren't they?
I think Dean has it just right. He is keeping the older lads on their toes and it makes a more competitive club. If I was in the shoes of Ben Howard or Max Stelling and had the same opportunities as them when I was their age, I would never have left the club. I think now we should be in a position to keep our rising stars because there are opportunities here.

What do you do away from rugby?
I coach Dudley Kingswinford’s academy from the ages of about 16 to 18. Shaun Perry coaches the first team. Every Tuesday and Thursday I coach them. I love walking my dogs too – I’ve got a Japanese shiba inu and a little mongrel, who is nuts. She is a labrador mixed with a border terrier and a poodle! I picked her up off a farm and she's pretty cool.

Who’s your best friend at the club?
Shaun Perry, who still works at the club despite retiring. I get on with everyone here. We’re a very close group.

What do you want to do when you retire from rugby?
I would like to be a coach but if not I would like to be in the police force or involved in teaching so there are a few options.