Cunningham happy with ‘debating room’

Rookie head coach Keiron Cunningham says he’s enjoying working with his St Helens assistant coaches Sean Long and Jamahl Lolesi.

Saints legend Cunningham made 495 appearances for the club before moving into the backroom and the 38-year-old former Great Britain hooker stepped up to the top job when Nathan Brown left at the end of last season.

His assistants are ex-New Zealand international Lolesi, who followed Brown from Huddersfield Giants in 2012, and former team-mate Long, who returned to the club where he spent 13 seasons as a player in November.

Reigning champions Saints have one of the youngest coaching teams in Super League and Cunningham says the trio are helping each other by sharing their experience and ideas.

Cunningham said: “The office is a good debating room. I’ve said from day one to the boys that I don’t want them to just sit there and nod at me and think that I’m right at everything.

“I want them to challenge me and there’s things that I’m not going to know. There’s things that I probably don’t understand as good as Jamahl does or Sean does and I’d be an ignorant person to think any different. 

“Things that some people have said we’ve debated, things that I’ve said we’ve debated and it’s been good. It’s good teaching for me and it’s good teaching for the rest of the coaches as well.

“Sean’s got his philosophies which he’s got from other clubs and Jamahl has from where he is and I have from mine.

“We all just have our little input and we come to a decision at the end of day and it’s generally what we feel is the right decision.”

Cunningham, who has added Travis Burns and Atelea Vea to his squad, has been very pleased with preparations so far and is keen to see how his shape up in pre-season games.

Saints contest the Karalius Cup with Widnes Vikings at Langtree Park on Sunday before welcoming old rivals Wigan Warriors next weekend.

“I’m happy with how things have gone,” said Cunningham.

“We’ve not left no stone unturned, we’ve trained really hard, we’ve been on the point of breaking them a few times and then we’ve pulled back.

“I’ve got a good set of staff around me, my conditioners are good and my physios are good. They’ve just been looking after their departments and doing what they’ve got to do with the boys, and things are going really well.”

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