Saints appoint Cunningham

Published: Monday 20th October 2014 by The News Editor

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St Helens have appointed Keiron Cunningham as their new head coach.

Cunningham is the successor to Nathan Brown, who stepped down following his club’s 14-6 Grand Final triumph over Wigan last weekend.

The former St George and Huddersfield boss was released 12 months early from his three-year contract in order to take his young family back to Australia.

Cunningham was an assistant to Brown for the previous two seasons.

Chairman Eamonn McManus told the club’s official website “Keiron is ready for this professionally and totally committed to the task ahead of him.

“He has been heavily involved in the success of this season and is ideally placed to carry it on for years to come.”

Cunningham has signed a two-year contract and will be assisted by former New Zealand Test centre Jamahl Lolesi, who worked alongside him after following Brown from Huddersfield two years ago.

The 37-year-old former Great Britain hooker is immortalised in bronze outside Langtree Park, where he was unveiled on Monday as Saints’ first British coach for 14 years.

Cunningham will also be the first man to coach his home-town club since Alex Murphy held the reins from 1985-90.

McManus added: “Keiron is highly respected by the players.

“Not only does he understand our culture, he has been instrumental in its development since the inception of Super League.

“Everyone at the club is totally behind his appointment and enthused by it.”

The appointment is sure to go down well with supporters, who in 2010 overwhelmingly selected him from a list of all-time greats to be the subject of a bronze, life-size statue, which was erected in the town centre and moved to Langtree Park when St Helens moved into their new stadium three years ago.

Cunningham, who turns 38 next week, made 419 appearances for his home-town club from 1993 to 2010.

McManus said: “His appointment will result in both continuity and stability within the club. We have a strong, young and exciting playing squad and we are well placed to compete at the highest level for many years ahead.

“CEO Mike Rush, Keiron and myself have worked together at the club in one form or another for 14 years. We understand the town and the club and their highest expectations. We will together continue to do our very best to meet them.”

Cunningham is the club’s second British head coach in the history of Super League. Ellery Hanley held the post from 1998 to 2000 in between spells by Australians Shaun McRae, Ian Millward, Daniel Anderson, Mick Potter and Royce Simmons.

The appointment leaves just two overseas coaches in charge of the 12 Super League clubs – Warrington’s former England boss Tony Smith, who has British citizenship, and Wakefield’s James Webster, who at 35 in the youngest head coach in the top flight.

Published: Monday 20th October 2014 by The News Editor

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