St Helens prop Alex Walmsley has insisted that he was always confident of the club’s top four and title chances this year with Keiron Cunningham in charge.
Cunningham came in for criticism earlier in the year after an inconsistent first part of the season with the Saints – but they head into the Super 8s on an impressive unbeaten run which saw them squeeze into the top four towards the end of the regular season.
And Walmsley says that run will battle-harden them for the battle which lies ahead – before defending Cunningham and the Saints.
“He is St Helens through and through,” Walmsley said. “He bleeds for the club, he’s a great coach and a great person.
“Despite the results, I think we were always bubbling below the surface.
“We were inconsistent for a lot of the season but to finish the season with five good performances on the bounce and sneak into the top four will really put us in good stead.”
The Saints begin life in the Super 8s against Warrington on Thursday in a huge all-top four clash, and Walmsley is expecting a ferocious battle.
“We come off one derby and go straight into another,” Walmsley said. “It’s going to be a high intense seven weeks.
“We have got a good record there but I don’t want to jinx us by saying we’ll keep that going. They’ve been fantastic all year and they’ve got some good players with the likes of Kurt Gidley and Chris Sandow and Chris Hill.
“They’re a dangerous side with strike all over the park.”