North Queensland Cowboys assistant David Fairleigh has been named as the favourite to become the next permanent head coach of St Helens.
Keiron Cunningham became the first Betfred Super League head coach to lose his job this year following Saints’ disappointing start to the season, and Betfred have named Fairleigh as the early favourite to replace Cunningham in the hot seat.
The 46-year-old played for St Helens in 2001 and played in the club’s World Club Challenge victory over Brisbane Broncos that year.
Fairleigh played alongside former coach Cunningham and Sean Long before retiring at the end of his only year at Saints.
Following his playing career, he went on to be the assistant coach at various NRL clubs and also took charge of Cook Islands in the 2013 World Cup.
He joined North Queensland in 2016 and was a part of the coaching staff who won the World Club Challenge against Leeds Rhinos.
Betfred said: “We waited a day after the announcement before taking any bets because the club might have had a preferred candidate.
“However, that does not seem to be the case and as soon as we listed the runners and riders, Saints fans, in particular, started choosing their favourite, with David Fairleigh emerging as the frontrunner, although a substantial amount has been staked on Furner.”
Former Wigan and Leeds star David Furner has been named as the second favourite to take the role, while Geoff Toovey, who is still awaiting a visa to become the Bradford Bulls head coach, is priced at 5-1, along with current Brisbane assistant Jason Demetriou.
Recently sacked Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor is available at 8-1, while former Super League winning coach Ian Millward is priced at 16-1 to return to the club.
Paul Anderson, Daryl Powell and Tim Sheens are among the runners, while outside bets include Leigh assistant Paul Cook, England rugby union coach Eddie Jones and League Express pundit Garry Schofield.
Odds to become the next permanent head coach of St Helens:
11-8 David Fairleigh
7-4 David Furner
5 Geoff Toovey
5 Jason Demetriou
8 Jason Taylor
16 Ian Millward
20 Paul Anderson
25 Daryl Powell
33 Tim Sheens
50 Daniel Anderson
100 Paul Cook
100 Sean Long
100 Warren Gatland
100 Eddie Jones
100 Tony Smith
100 Bobbie Goulding
100 Shaun Wane
100 Craig Bellamy
100 Wayne Bennett
100 Paul Wellens
250 Jon Wells
250 Phil Clarke
250 Gary Schofield
500 Billy Boston