Saints announce Cunningham as new head coach

Keiron Cunningham is favourite to be appointed Saints new head coach
Keiron Cunningham is favourite to be appointed Saints new head coach

Saints have acted quickly to appoint Keiron Cunningham as their successor to Nathan Brown, who stepped down after his club’s 14-6 Grand Final triumph over Wigan last weekend.

The former St George and Huddersfield boss was released 12 months early from his three-year contract in order to take his young family back to Australia.

Another Australian, Daniel Anderson, had been linked with the vacancy following his successful stint at St Helens from 2005-08.

But the speed with which the club put themselves in a position to unveil their new man always suggested a domestic appointment.

Cunningham, with former Saints, Wales and Great Britain hooker, had been the bookmakers’ favourite.

Jamahl Lolesi, a former New Zealand international centre who followed Brown from Huddersfield to St Helens two years ago, was also rumoured to be a possible contender.

Cunningham and Lolesi were assistants to Brown for the last two years while Cunningham coached the team alongside then general manager Mike Rush for most of the 2012 season following the departure of Royce Simmons.

The appointment of Cunningham will go down particularly well with supporters, who in 2010 voted overwhelmingly to immortalise him with a bronze, life-size statue, which was erected in the town centre and moved to Langtree Park when St Helens moved into their new stadium three years ago.

Cunningham, who turns 38 next week, made 419 appearances for his home-town club from 1993 to 2010.

He becomes St Helens’ first British head coach since Ellery Hanley held the reins from 1998 to 2000, since when Australians Ian Millward, Anderson, Mick Potter and Simmons held the post.