St Helens took the decision to part with a club legend in Keiron Cunningham as their Head Coach ahead of a key period of the season.
They have been a really odd side to watch this season. There have been cases when you can say they’ve been unlucky this season but other performances have been pretty poor to watch. There have been flashes of good performances but it’s clear that those flashes haven’t been enough to keep one of their greats in his post.
Saints have hardly been making the Totally Wicked Stadium (I’m not sure the name helps) a fortress with a defeat to Wakefield and surrendering a 14-point lead to Huddersfield. There will be several sides that will have looked at Saints sensing an opportunity rather than fearing them as they may have done with the side they had 10 years ago.
But they go to the DW Stadium on Friday lunchtime in dire need of some good results – and they face a Wigan side looking to bounce back from their recent difficult run before they host the in-form league leaders when Castleford Tigers visit on Monday.
Failure to win either of those games – against the two favourites to be in contention for Grand Final success in October – could see them facing an uphill battle to be in the mix themselves come the end of the season.
For now – even after the sacking of Cunningham – it’s still fancied that Saints will make the top four. They’re best priced at 8/11 with BetVictor and that particular market hasn’t moved. The stakes are pretty high for them over the Easter period.
They are currently four points adrift of fourth place but that gap is likely to get bigger if they fail to pick up points from their next two games. Salford, Hull, Leeds and Warrington will all be fancied to get at least one win under their belts.
For the trio in temporary charge of Sean Long, Jamahl Lolesi and Derek Traynor it’s a huge period they have to guide the club through until the hierarchy at Saints find their desired replacement.
Not that the next coach will be looking at the betting odds, but there is a serious chance they won’t be favourites for a top four place come the end of the Easter programme and by the time their man is in place.
Saints fans will be hoping that their new man would be able to make their current 12/1 price (Stan James) as Grand Final winners value for money come the end of the campaign – but it could take some doing.