Yates' view: So who next for the St Helens coaching job?

David Fairleigh
David Fairleigh

Who will Saints now turn to following head coach Justin Holbrook's decision to take charge of NRL club Gold Coast Titans from next season?

That's the million dollar question on the lips of most local fans and already one or two names have been bandied about on social media.

Most popular seems to be Australian prop forward David Fairleigh, who spent the 2001 season at Knowsley Road,and helped Saints lift the Challenge Cup against Bradford Bulls at Twickenham.

Fairleigh, now 48, is currently assistant coach of North Queensland Cowboys and his name was mentioned as a successor to Keiron Cunningham before Holbrook landed the job in May 2017.

Leaving out Mike Rush, who was only caretaker boss in charge when Royce Simmons departed, St Helens have only employed one full-time British head coach, Keiron Cunningham, since Ellery Hanley's rein (1998/2000), but possibly there are one or two candidates in the frame.

Coaches like 42-year-old Ian Watson of Salford Red Devils, who was recently handed an assistant coaching role with the returning Great Britain Lions, or Castleford's Daryl Powell who may be in need of a fresh challenge at a bigger club.

Closer to home there is the existing backroom staff, including one-club man Paul Wellens, Richard Marshall and Ian Talbot, but while I would not discount Wello from becoming a future St Helens boss, it may be a little too earlier at this stage of his career.

Ironically, the most experienced and successful British coach who could fit the bill is ex-Wigan supremo Shaun Wane, currently high performance coach with the Scottish RU, but I doubt whether chairman Eamonn McManus would ever consider going down that road.

But whatever lies ahead, the chairman will be leaving no stone unturned until he lands the right man to build on the progress made by Holbrook in his short tenure at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

And wouldn't it be great if the new man arrives with the Coral Challenge Cup and the Grand Final Trophy already adorning the
boardroom cabinet.

Or is that just wishful thinking?