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Cunningham appointment is a boost to British coaches

with Kieron Cunningham's appointment only two Australian's coaches are left in the Super League Photo: PA

Keiron Cunningham will proudly fly the flag for British coaches as Super League edges closer to an overseas wipeout.

When John Kear was sacked by Huddersfield in the summer of 2000, it left Super League without a single Briton in charge of an elite club.

A little over 14 years later, St Helens' appointment of Cunningham as the successor to Nathan Brown leaves just two Australians at the helm - Warrington's former England boss Tony Smith and Wakefield's James Webster, who has also made England his home after arriving in 2007.

In turning to their former captain and one-club man, Saints followed the example of Castleford, Catalan Dragons, Hull and Hull KR in replacing Australians with local men who had close affinities to their organisations.

Former captain and one-club man Kieron Cunningham has been appointed St Helens new head coach. Credit: PA

I think what you are seeing now are the people who were involved in Super League from the start who have been coached really well.

It's a production line of those past players who know a lot about rugby.

Believe it or not, we have got some smart English coaches who do understand the game. I'm proud to be English and I'm proud to be in charge of this club.

– Kieron Cunningham, StHelens coach.
Australian coach Daniel Anderson helped build a legacy at StHelens Credit: PA

Of course, St Helens' success in the early days of Super League was achieved under overseas coaches, initially Shaun McRae and Ian Millward, while Cunningham is quick to praise the legacy created by Daniel Anderson, with whom he keeps in regular contact.

Around 10 years ago the game wanted to develop more of its own coaches and there was a push from the media when the last British coach went.

Now we've nearly gone full circle.

It's been a big shift and that's credit to the game and credit to the clubs that they want to invest some of their energy and resources into their own. That can only be good for the game.

– Mike Rush, Saints chief executive.

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