Cunningham won’t rush Walsh’s St Helens return

St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham has confirmed that Luke Walsh will not be rushed back into the side as his recovery from injury continues.

Walsh, 27, broke his leg playing against Widnes six months ago, and many fans had hoped that he would be fit for the World Club Challenge against South Sydney on February 22.

Cunningham is taking a long-term view of the situation, however.

“I’d be a fool to bring him back early when there is another 10 months of rugby to play,” the coach said.

Saints opened their campaign with a dour 18-7 victory over Catalans Dragons on Friday evening. Cunningham acknowledged that the game had not been an especially entertaining spectacle.

He also highlighted the role of the match officials, and what a prominent role they had played in proceedings.

“It wasn’t pretty,” he said. “It’s disappointing for me that all these rugby league fans who have been waiting for this season to start, to see the sport they love, that after two TV games all people are talking about is how many refereeing decisions are made in the game.

“We want to just play rugby league.

“The side hung on in there and their resilience and effort defensively was good – they keep showing that to me because they are making themselves defend a lot.

“We defended 30 tackles in a row and then went up the other end and should have scored. That changes the whole aspect of the game – our skill was off tonight.

“We looked a little nervous; we looked like we were playing on TV for the first game of the season. When we got into our rhythms though we looked undefendable – we threatened them every time.

“Catalans showed immense resilience for what they have gone through. They lost Tonga, didn’t have half backs and were without middle men. I thought they were great and will be up there this year.”

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