James Cunningham signs two-year deal with Championship club

James Gordon
James Cunningham

York Knights have signed former London Broncos hooker James Cunningham on a two-year deal.

Cunningham, 28, is re-united with new Knights coach Andrew Henderson, who he played under for three years in the capital.

He was part of the Broncos squad that earned promotion to Super League in 2018, and has since had spells in the top flight with Huddersfield, Toronto and Toulouse.

Coach Henderson said: “We’re really happy to have James on board. I’ve had the pleasure of working with James previously and knowing him as a person, I thought he’d be a good fit for the group.

“From a playing point of view, he’s a Super League standard player, having mainly plied his trade in Super League at some very good clubs, working under some very good coaches.

“At 28-years-old, he’s still in the prime of his career, so I think he’ll add real value.

“James can showcase himself over the next two years with us and if and when we make the jump to full-time in the future, he could be part of that part as well.

“It was important to find someone with versatility. James can play a number of positions and he’s equally at home at hooker, loose forward, half-back, centre or back-row.

“With our current squad, that could prove valuable for us this season.”

Excited to be part of the journey

James Cunningham scored 34 tries in 123 appearances for the Broncos, including 26 in Super League in 2019.

He then made the move to Toronto Wolfpack, where he was part of their ill-fated 2020 campaign in the top flight that was first cut short by COVID and then by them being kicked out of the competition.

That meant a move to Huddersfield for 2021, where he made 11 appearances, before a planned swap deal move to Leigh fell through.

He ended up with Toulouse in 2022, making 12 appearances as they failed to avoid relegation back to the Championship.

Cunningham came through the ranks at Hull FC, spending time on loan at Doncaster and London, before making his switch to the capital permanent in 2016.

His utility value will likely be of use to York, with Cunningham having featured at hooker, half-back and loose forward last season.

He added: “I’ve got a pretty good relationship with Hendo from our time at London. 

“When I saw that Hendo made the move to York, I asked him what the player availability was and if he’d want to sign me again, because I really enjoyed playing under him.

“Hendo is really transparent as a Head Coach, he tells you what he wants and he’ll tell you if you’re doing something wrong and that’s all you can ask as a player.

“I came down on a two-week trial and enjoyed it and Hendo asked me to stay and be part of his vision of earning promotion to Super League.

“Plus, I’ve had my eye on York for the past couple of years given that it’s a Club that’s been moving forward since winning promotion (from Betfred League One in 2018).

“I’m just really excited to be part of this journey.”

York start their 2023 Championship campaign at home to Widnes on Sunday.

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