Cunningham urges supporters to be ‘extra player’

Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham
Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham

One of the current big guns of rugby league will be silenced on Sunday - their Wembley dreams lying in tatters at the first hurdle.

Saints entertain Hull FC in a mouth-watering Ladbrokes Challenge Cup sixth round tie and boss Keiron Cunningham is fully aware of the task facing the 12-times trophy winner.

“Hull are the form side of Super League at the moment and will be difficult to beat but on the flip side we aren’t a bad side either,” said Cunningham.

Successive wins over Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos will have put Saints in the right frame of mind as they prepare for what is expected to be a closely contested Battle of the Roses.

The St Helens supremo added: “We possibly would have liked an easier draw to start the cup campaign but if you want achieve a Wembley triumph it is inevitable you will have to overcome teams of Hull’s quality along the way.

“Every club basically has a chance of lifting the trophy in what is a sudden death competition and it’s how you perform on the day that really matters.”

Cunningham is also looking to their “extra man” to play a part in hopefully bringing the roof down on the Airlie Birds.

“Our supporters have once more been phenomenal this season and particularly vocal during our last two matches,” he said.

“The support at Castleford last Sunday on a rainy afternoon was outstanding and we need them right behind us this weekend.

“The players appreciate it and it could be the difference bertween winning or losing the tie.”

Hull have won seven of their last eight Super League games which includes a 17-16 triumph at Langtree Park at the beginning of April, but Cunningham insists: “Previous results mean nothing and while I felt we were a little unlucky to lose the last encounter between the teams we are now in better shape, having one or two of our players back from injury and will be raring to go.”

There is also an outside chance that winger Adam Swift, who has missed the last eight matches due to an ankle problem, will be fit to rejoin the squad.

“It’s touch and go at this moment in time and possibly the cup tie is a little too early on his return,” added Cunningham.