Exclusive: St Helens’ Jodie Cunningham turns down Wigan Warriors transfer approach as reason for rejection is revealed

Aaron Bower
St Helens captain Jodie Cunningham Alamy

Jodie Cunningham in action for St Helens in the 2023 Challenge Cup final at Wembley - Alamy

St Helens and England captain Jodie Cunningham has rejected an advance from Wigan Warriors to switch clubs for the 2024 Women’s Super League season, Love Rugby League has learned.

Cunningham, one of the biggest stars in the Women’s Super League and arguably the biggest ambassador for the growth of women’s rugby league, has spent her entire WSL career with the Saints since the competition was launched in 2018.

However, she was recently subject to interest from the Saints’ biggest rivals.

The Warriors have lofty ambitions for their women’s side in 2024 and beyond, epitomised by the appointment of Denis Betts as their new head coach for the forthcoming season.

That involves a significant financial investment, with the Warriors targeting some of the competition’s biggest stars.

And while they targeted Cunningham as a significant off-season addition, Cunningham has decided against making the move, Love Rugby League has been told.

Former Woman of Steel Jodie Cunningham committed to St Helens

St Helens are one of several leading WSL clubs keen to press ahead with plans for the growth of their women’s operation in 2024.

It is understood they will take significant steps towards a more professional operation in the off-season: though some way short of the ambitious plans unveiled by York Valkyrie.

The Saints are keen to eventually reach a point where their players are professionals, but are keen to do it in a sustainable manner.

And Cunningham is believed to be fully committed to helping the club deliver their plans.

The Saints’ squad could be set for a major overhaul ahead of 2024, with a number of big names leaving the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Love Rugby League revealed last month that England star Shona Hoyle was set to switch to Leeds Rhinos, a move which was confirmed by the Rhinos in recent days.

It is also understood that more of the Saints’ mainstays are being targeted by other WSL clubs, too.

But the news they are likely to retain Cunningham despite interest from elsewhere is a major boost.

The 31-year-old captained England in last weekend’s victory over Wales and has enjoyed a stellar career in the sport.

She was named the winner of the 2021 Woman of Steel award, and also captained the Saints to a historic treble that year. She wore the armband earlier this year as the Saints lifted the Challenge Cup once again.

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