St Helens chairman McManus keen to secure Justin Holbrook with new contract

St Helens owner Eamonn McManus has insisted that he wants to keep coach Justin Holbrook beyond the end of the contract which expires at the end of this season.

Holbrook agreed a deal through to the end of the upcoming 2019 campaign when he replaced Kieron Cunningham midway through 2017 – and though he is yet to guide the Saints to either a Challenge Cup or Grand Final triumph, is an immensely popular figure in the town.

And McManus reiterated to League Express that even though no extension has yet been agreed, he does not want to lose Holbrook for 2020.

“I want him to stay, without a doubt,” McManus told League Express.

“There’s got to come a point in time where we all sit down. He’s incredibly popular among the fans and the players – as well as with myself! I think he’s a great guy; he’s lifted the town superbly so we will have some conversations at the right time, yes.”

McManus has also admitted that Saints are also interested in taking part in a future overseas game somewhere, ahead of Wigan’s trip to Barcelona to play Catalans in May – but says the numbers must add up.

“Literally anything that improves the profile of the club and makes financial sense in the medium-to-long-term, we’re interested,” McManus said.

“Going to Australia didn’t make sense to us; there was nothing to be gained and plenty to be lost – but a game against Catalans in the Nou Camp: that’s a great move from them and the competition. Good luck to them, and good luck to Wigan, because it’s great for Super League.”

However, McManus was far less complimentary about the ongoing dispute between the RFL and the Dragons concerning their defence of the Challenge Cup in 2019.

He said: “It’s pathetic, it really is. I feel ashamed. We should be celebrating the fact they won the cup, not penalising them.
“If you’re going to do penalise them for reaching the cup final, you should penalise them every week because they bring no supporters! But we can see beyond that and we know we need them. If the game in France improves, the game here improves.”

This story first appeared in Monday’s League Express.