The growing number of English coaches in charge at Super League clubs doesn’t come as a surprise to Keiron Cunningham.
The Saints’ boss, who is one of five home-grown ex-players involved in the current Super 8s after enjoying a career spanning the early years of summer rugby, said: “I predicted this would happen a few years ago and it seems as though I’ve been proved right.”
Now in his second year as head coach at Langtree Park, 39-year-old Cunningham is currently pitting his wits in the play-offs against Lee Radford (Hull FC), Denis Betts (Widnes Vikings), Chris Chester (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats) and Daryl Powell (Castleford Tigers), as well as Wigan’s Shaun Wane, whose playing days were pre-Super League, Frenchman Laurent Frayssinous at Catalans and Aussie-born Tony Smith at Warrington Wolves - and is not doing too bad a job!
He added: “We are now seeing a crop of Super League era players coming through into management and with a good knowledge and understanding of the game.
“It’s great to see to see English coaches doing well and being successful like Lee at Hull.
“He captained his home-town club in his playing days and last month helped steer them to Challenge Cup Final victory over Warrington Wolves - a result which, I believe, is immense for the sport.”
The days when Australians seemed to land most of the the top jobs in this country may now be a thing of the past, but they are still indelibly etched in Cunningham’s memory.
“It almost got to the stage that if you worked as a bin man in Australia, you had a chance of getting a job over here,” he said.
“It may also sound daft but if you had an Australian accent, you were likely to get a gig in Super League.”