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  1. ITV Report

Cunningham and St Helens part company

Photo: ITV News

}Keiron Cunningham has been sacked as head coach of St.Helens, the Super League club have announced.

The former Saints and Great Britain hooker, who is immortalised in a bronze statue outside the club's ground, has paid the price for his team's disappointing start to the season.

St Helens go into their Good Friday derby at Wigan in seventh place after winning just three of their opening eight matches.

"Keiron has been with the club for 24 years as man, boy, player and coach. The commitment that he has shown to the club throughout, and in every capacity, has been without equal.

"It is both upsetting and disappointing for us all that it has ended at this point in time. Keiron nevertheless understands the position and, as a mark of the man that he is, wishes only well and good to the club, its players and everyone associated with it.

"His statue outside the ground is a deserved reflection of his immense contribution to the club. That is clear, obvious and permanent.

"We will now look to move the Club forward and will immediately commence the search for a new Head Coach. St.Helens is a world class club with a great squad of players and its only objective will be continuous success at the highest level.

– St Helens Chairman Eamonn McManus

Cunningham, who was appointed as the successor to Australian Nathan Brown after the club's 2014 Grand Final win over Wigan, is the first Super League coaching casualty of 2017.

He came under pressure last season after Saints won just nine of their opening 18 matches but looked secure after they rallied to reach the play-off semi-finals.

Cunningham made 496 appearances for his home-town club from 1993-2010 and won every possible honour in that time. He was named in the club's "greatest 17" as well as heading a fans' poll to have a statue erected in his image to honour the club.