Keiron Cunningham

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Keiron Cunningham
Keiron Cunningham Saints.JPG
Cunningham playing for St Helens in 2010
Personal information
Nickname The General, The King, World’s Best[1]
Born (1976-10-28) 28 October 1976 (age 38)
St Helens, England
Playing information
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.76 m)
Weight 16 st 12 lb (107 kg)
Position Hooker
Club
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1994–10 St Helens 496 175 0 0 700
Representative
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1995–00 Wales 9 2 0 0 8
1996–06 Great Britain 14 0 0 0 0
Coaching information
Representative
Years Team Gms W D L W%
2015– St Helens 0 0 0 0
Source: Rugby League Project

Keiron Cunningham (born 28 October 1976) is a former British professional rugby league footballer and coach. A Great Britain and Wales international representative hooker, he played his entire professional career at St Helens, making nearly 500 appearances for the club between 1994 and 2010, and winning numerous trophies.

As of October 2014, Cunningham is the head coach at St Helens following the departure of Australian Nathan Brown, under whom he was assistant coach for two years.

The youngest of ten siblings, Keiron Cunningham was born five months after his brother, Edward "Eddie" Cunningham,[2] had won a Rugby League Challenge Cup winner's medal for St Helens against Widnes. Another of Keiron Cunningham's brothers, Thomas "Tommy" Cunningham, also played for St Helens.

Playing career[edit]

Keiron Cunningham warming up for St. Helens

In 1993, on his 17th birthday, Cunningham signed for his hometown club St Helens from Wigan St Judes.[3] He made his debut in the 1994–95 Rugby Football League season and soon established himself as a world class hooker, renowned for his dynamic running from dummy-half and ability to poach tries from short distances. He represented both Great Britain and Wales in international matches, qualifying for Wales because of a Welsh grandfather.

Cunningham played for St Helens at hooker in the 1996 Challenge Cup Final, scoring a try in the second half of the match and helping his team to a 40-32 victory over Bradford.[4] At the end of 1996's Super League I, Cunningham was named at hooker in the 1996 Super League Dream Team. Cunningham played for St Helens at hooker in their 1999 Super League Grand Final victory over Bradford Bulls. Also in 1999 he was the only British player voted into the World XIII.[5]

Cunningham played for St Helens at hooker in their 2000 Super League Grand Final victory against the Wigan Warriors. As Super League V champions, St Helens played against 2000 NRL Premiers, the Brisbane Broncos in the 2001 World Club Challenge. Cunningham played at hooker in Saints' victory.

Cunningham played for St Helens at hooker in their 2002 Super League Grand Final victory against the Bradford Bulls.

Over the course of his career, Cunningham rejected offers from the Welsh Rugby Union, England Rugby Union and from various Australian rugby league clubs, instead choosing to remain with his hometown team. In 2006 Cunningham was named as captain of St Helens following the persistent injuries and subsequent retirement of Paul Sculthorpe. Cunningham played for St Helens at hooker in their 2006 Challenge Cup Final victory against the Huddersfield Giants. St Helens reached the 2006 Super League Grand final to be contested against Hull FC and Cunningham played at hooker, scoring a try in Saints' 26-4 victory. As 2006 Super League champions, St Helens faced 2006 NRL Premiers the Brisbane Broncos in the 2007 World Club Challenge. Cunningham played from the interchange bench in Saints' 18-14 victory.

In 2010, Cunningham announced that he would be retiring from rugby league following the culmination of 2010's Super League XV.[6] 2010 also marked the final year at St Helens' Knowsley Road ground before moving to a new stadium. It was, in fact, Kieron Cunningham who scored the final try ever at the prestigious ground in his penultimate match. However, despite a memorable 2010 play-offs for Cunningham, there was to be no fairytale ending as his last ever game ended in defeat against arch rivals Wigan in the 2010 Super League Grand Final. He finished his career with 496 appearances for St Helens,[7] scoring 175 tries.

During his career he won five Super League Championships, seven Challenge Cup Winners Medals and two World Club Challenge Winners medals, was named in the Super League Dream Team on six occasions,[8] and in July 2007 Rugby League World magazine ranked him as the greatest player of the Super League era. Following a supporters' poll featuring the likes of Tom van Vollenhoven and Alex Murphy, Cunningham was chosen to be cast as a bronze statue outside of Langtree Park.[9] The statue was unveiled on Chalon Way opposite the Glass House pub in March 2010[10] and was relocated to the stadium following its completion in October 2011.[11]

Coaching career[edit]

Following his retirement as a player, Cunningham took up an assistant coaching role in the strength and conditioning department at St Helens. After the sacking of Royce Simmons in 2012 he was appointed assistant head coach of St Helens, working alongside temporary head coach Mike Rush.

On Monday 20th October 2014, Cunningham was appointed as Head Coach of St Helens. He appointed former Saints team-mate Sean Long to assist him for his role.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rugby League: The Cunningham legend". Wales online. 2007-08-19. Retrieved 11-02-2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. ^ "Big brother rules out Keiron claim". BBC Sport (UK: BBC). 8 August 2001. Retrieved 22 November 2010. 
  3. ^ "Cunningham backs league cause". BBC Sport. 7 August 2001. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "steveprescottfoundation.co.uk". Steve Prescott Stats. Steve Prescott Foundation. Retrieved 3 June 2012. 
  5. ^ "World Cup Star - Keiron Cunningham". sportinglife.com (sportinglife.com). 2000. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  6. ^ "Cunningham looking to end on a high". BBC. 2010-01-26. Retrieved 2010-02-26. 
  7. ^ Slater, Gary (3 October 2010). "Michael Maguire plots new Wigan dynasty following Grand Final win over St Helens". Telegraph. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "2008 engage Super League Dream Team". Super League. 2008-09-15. Retrieved 2008-09-26. 
  9. ^ "Cunningham statue moves to new stadium". St Helens Star. Retrieved 25 October 2012. 
  10. ^ Kilmurray, Andrew (4 March 2010). "Saints' Keiron Cunningham 'humbled' by bronze statue". St Helens Star. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "Keiron Cunningham statue moves to new Saints rugby league stadium". St Helens Star. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  12. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/nov/17/sean-long-return-st-helens-assistant-coach

External links[edit]