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Cunningham eyes title tilt

St Helens coach Kieron Cunningham is fully prepared and ready for the new Super League season.

The Saints are once again amongst the favourites for the Betfred sponsored title, and they will kick-off the new season at home to Leeds Rhinos on Thursday evening. spoke exclusively with Cunningham, who cannot wait to get going.

“It is pretty exciting we have been running around for a couple of months and getting things in place getting everything sorted but the boys are ready and that light at the end of the tunnel; which is the start of the season is getting ever closer,” he told us.

“It is always nice to be part of the game, kicking-off – last season we watched a good opener and this time we will have a full house at the Totally Wicked Stadium and our fans are desperate for the season to start.”

Cunningham is fully expecting his team to challenge for honours, adding: “Every season is the same you want to be part of every big game and every big event, anyone who sees themselves as one of the bigger clubs has that expectation and we will be doing our best and utmost to be involved in as many of those big games as we can.”

One blow for his side has been the loss of star off-season signing Matty Smith to a broken leg, but they are refusing to let that impact on them and Cunningham insists it could very well offer a chance to someone else.

“Every time you get some adversity, there is also opportunity and you can see people playing in different positions or maybe a debut so that opens the door for people and we are excited about our potential pairings, Matty won’t be with us to start with but we have to deal with that,” he said.

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Most people have Wigan and Warrington down as early favourites, and whilst Cunningham thinks the Wolves are looking good, he feels the Super League has never been stronger.

“Everybody is in the same boat, there are more than two teams in the competition – everyone has recruited very well, everyone is spending the same because of the salary cap, it is going to be a really tough season,” he continued.

“Warrington on paper with what they have brought in look very good, but getting off to a good start is important.

“Cas [Castleford] have signed really well, Wakefield have, you look at what Hull did last year and nobody has mentioned Leigh this year and they did so well last year against Super League clubs so they could be a real force too. It is going to be a real interesting competition, there are only eight teams who can get in the play-offs and we have to make sure we are in that top eight.

“There is a lot of stake in Rugby League now, you saw that last year you cannot take anything for granted”

“There is a lot of stake in Rugby League now, you saw that last year you cannot take anything for granted – look at Hull KR, they look safed and Salford get the drop goal in the million pound game, and you have seen how teams like Bradford have fallen by the way-side because they are not in the right place at the right time and get relegated, so you have to be careful, everyone wants to make the top-eight and make sure we are not part of that lower four.”

St Helens have a young squad and Cunningham is more than happy to keep raiding their famed youth set-up.

“We have got a good development line-up we have got some very good senior players and good juniors, who are that year older and we have plenty more ready to come in and that is something we pride ourselves on.”

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