Cunningham: Certain players let us down

Keiron Cunningham
Keiron Cunningham

Without naming names, Saints’ boss Keiron Cunningham has admitted that he was ‘let down last season by certain players in certain areas’ last season.

Whether they are still at the club, or now elsewhere, only he and his backroom staff know, but he insisted this week that they had changed things by bringing in new players that were going to be ‘genuine leaders who care about the club they represent and where we want to head as a group.’

Matty is the best no.7 in Super League and I think he was hard done by not making the England Four Nations squad

Keiron Cunningham

Scrum half Matty Smith - back at Saints where he started his professional career in 2006 - and former Salford Red Devils versatile skipper Tommy Lee, are two new signings Cunningham feels fall into this category and will be expecting the duo to show leadership qualities, both on and off the field.

“Matty is the best no.7 in Super League and I think he was hard done by not making the England Four Nations squad for the end of season tournament, having been man of the match in the previous year’s third Test against New Zealand,” he declared.

“You only need to look at what he does leadership-wise, steering players around the field and how consistent and calm he always appears.

“He makes the right decisions at the right times and while we will be playing him slightly different to his role at Wigan, I think it will suit him more.”

Of Hull-born Lee, who looks the natural understudy to first choice hooker James Roby, Cunningham said: “We have brought Tommy on board, not only for his leadership skills but being a good no. 9 who is also capable of showing his versatility by playing in the halves and at loose forward.

“He will give us a different dynamic, reminding me of the time James and I played together.

“I was a different player to Robes and vice-visa and now Tommy will give us a different slant on how we can attack.”

Cunningham concluded: “Both Matty and Tommy are vastly experienced Super League players with approaching a combined total of 500 career matches between them and along with other new faces, Ryan Morgan, Luke Douglas and Adam Walker, will give us extra strength in depth.”