St Helens coach Cunningham stands by Bailey ‘gamble’

St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham has given his backing to young winger Ricky Bailey, after the player endured a torrid debut against Hull FC on Easter Monday.

Hull FC stand-off Leon Pryce tormented the youngster with some targeted kicks, and the 17-year-old was taken off in the second half.

But Cunningham has insisted that he would take the gamble of playing the youngster again.

“He’s a smart character is Leon, and it was always going to be a gamble with Ricky, but I was hoping that the gamble would pay off,” he said.

“I thought he was ready, and I’d still give him another shot.

“He looked a little bit nervous at times, which everyone is on their debut.

“Ricky is a far better player than what you’ve seen. Leon put him under a lot of pressure, and it’s unfortunate.

“But it’s all about learning in rugby league, and sometimes learning’s ugly. Sometimes you’ve got to go backwards to go forwards, and Ricky’s a good player.

“He’ll be made up that he’s got his debut, as I am, and I know that he can stand up in Super League.”

Saints lost their second successive game by a scoreline of 20-28, and Cunningham felt that the defeat was something that they had brought on themselves, largely, due to ineptitude in possession.

“We weren’t very smart with the ball,” he said.

“We had plenty of opportunities, I can’t complain.

“We had lots of opportunities at Hull KR, and we bombed it. We had lots of opportunities today, and we just didn’t capitalise on them.

“That’s the luxury of having a good half-back pairing who have been together for a while.

“If Jordan Turner and Lance Hohaia play together for a long time then they’ll get a good understanding.

“But they haven’t played together for a long time.

“[We’ve got] key people patched up in our side. We’ve lost some very big players in our side for long periods of time.

“So you’ve just got to do your best and prepare for next week, and see that that brings.”

Cunningham also acknowledged that Hull had been the better side, and deserved their win.

“It’s not been the greatest Easter,” he admitted.

“But it isn’t the breaking of the club. It’s a couple of losses and you just move on, and you get up and you go and play again next Sunday. Thats what rugby’s about.

“It’s unfortunate, and it could have gone a lot differently.

“But Hull deserved it in the end. They hung in there and they did what they did.

“Leon’s a good little player, Jamie Shaul and people like that are genuine attacking threats.

“I think we gave them too much time on the ball, and defensively looked really tired.

“We looked like a really tired side. But they would have been tired too, so there’s no excuses.

“Everybody’s got to back up on Monday, and if you want to feel sorry for yourself, you’re not going to do the right things, then you get what you deserve in rugby league.”

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