Keiron Cunningham declared himself “as pleased as Punch” as Saints denied their many critics to reach the Old Trafford Grand Final after overcoming the French resistance of the Catalan Dragons at Langtree Park.
Coach Nathan Brown’s no. 2 said: “We knew if we stuck to our game plan and were resilient we could grind them down. The lads have faced a difficult task and all credit to them for their performances during the last few weeks.
“But we knew if we stuck in there and kicked the ball well, chased hard and made tackles, we would get the right result in the end.
“We started a little nervous but defensively we were great and fronted up well. We scrambled so well again and James Roby proved he is
superhuman. He saved tries and tracked back when he didn’t really need to.”
Cunningham also lavished praise on the contribution made by younger members of the squad.
He declared: “We have always had that thing at this club, had young kids coming through,” he continued. “I came through at 17. The theory is if you are good enough you are old enough and age doesn’t matter.
“The kids are the future of this club and both Luke Thompson and Greg Richards were magnificent tonight.
“They’ve massive careers ahead of them and are future internationals
in my eyes, too. They will only get better and better.”
Cunningham went on: “Six weeks ago was a real pivotal moment for us. After the Hull game, having lost key playmaker Luke Walsh with a
fractured ankle against Widnes the previous week, the coaches came in on the Saturday morning and devised a masterplan which would make or break us.
“Working with this group of players has enabled us to do what we have done. They have all bought into it and the victory over Castleford at home was the stamp on it. We believed it could work and it did and now we are at the big dance.
“This group of young players have finished first and to make a Grand Final is the making of them and the building blocks of the future.
“I am proud as punch for the lads, because I know what it means for the club and the players going forward.
“The easy option would have been to lie down and take the adversity. There would be 1,000 excuses not to do it and they could have said let’s wait until next season.
“We lost three of our best players but the boys have stood up and going forward that shows special things will happen at this place.”