Cunningham never lost faith in his players

St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham insists that he never questioned his team’s abilities.

A superb end to the year saw Cunningham’s stuttering side end the regular season in fourth place, with many now considering them as viable contenders for the Grand Final.

It was just two months ago that pressure was increasing on the legendary hooker, with a section of the Saints faithful believing it was time for him to leave the club.

But following a fantastic recovery, Cunningham insists he is not at all surprised by their turn in fortune.

“Hindsight is a great thing,” he told TotalRL.

“This isn’t just an accident that happened overnight – it has been coming for the past three months. I said a few weeks ago that we weren’t done yet and the season wasn’t over. I work with these players every day. What people see on the field I see at training and I could see us turning corners and heading in the right direction.

“Everybody has to remember that this is a transitional period for the club. You look at Luke Thompson, Joe Greenwood and Greg Richards and those players are not kids anymore. But when things are not going well for you as a club, to put a lot of responsibility on junior players is difficult, and they do come unstuck. But I think we’ve had a solid group of players who have performed every week for us, for example James Roby, Jon Wilkin and Alex Walmsley and I could name more than that. What we have put round them is the key for us, and we’ve put some good players around them. We have had a bit of consistency over the last three or four weeks where we have picked some very similar teams.

“We have been disappointing at times, and the fans are entitled to be demanding. They’ve had lots of success over long periods of Super League history. Everybody pays good money to come and watch a good team. And when the team isn’t performing the fans are entitled to have their opinion. And I am just as big a fan as they are. Every season is full of ifs and buts, and I always say to my team that if they can limit the ifs and buts, at the end of the season from the previous season, then you haven’t done badly. At St Helens we always shoot for the stars, and anything below that is a big inferior for us.”