One of the three men likely to remain in charge of St Helens for the rest of the season has revealed how sacked coach Keiron Cunningham spoke to him in the aftermath of his sacking: and said that they will aim to produce a performance against Wigan on Friday to do him proud.
Alongside Sean Long and Derek Traynor, Jamahl Lolesi is set to head up the coaching set-up at the Saints for the remainder of 2017 after the club hinted on Tuesday they may not appoint a permanent successor to Cunningham until the end of the season.
And Lolesi has spoken about how Cunningham spoke with him after he was dismissed by the club on Monday – saying he put the club’s preparation for the derby on Good Friday before his own personal plight.
“There’s nobody that would want us to win the game on Friday more than Kez,” Lolesi said.
“The first thing he did when he received the bad news was to ring me and tell me to make sure the boys trained well and got a win on the weekend – it didn’t matter about his personal situation.
“That’s a measure of the guy he is; he’s more worried about the group and there’ll be nobody cheering harder than him on Friday. He’s the most passionate St Helens fan there is so we can show some good will to Keiron with a good performance on Friday. He said it wasn’t about him, it was about the team.”
Lolesi also insisted that everyone at the club has to take responsibility for Cunningham’s departure after two years as head coach – and over two decades at St Helens in total.
“The events of this week are sad and obviously it makes it harder when Keiron is such a good person. He’s given 24 years of his life to the club and he’s a great coach and as a player, he won just about everything there was to be won.
“It made it harder for everyone involved with the club. But in saying that, the results haven’t been where we’ve wanted them to be and we just haven’t been good enough: myself included and the playing group included.
“There was nobody working harder than Kez to turn it around but things just didn’t work out. The players were visibly upset by it because they liked him as a person and a coach and we’ve all got to take some responsibility for what has happened.”