Cunningham puts drug furore behind him to inspire Saints

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The Independent Online

Ian Millward insisted he was "really proud" of Keiron Cunningham after the hooker shrugged off the recent revelations over a positive drugs test to help St Helens to a 36-15 win at Wakefield.

The Rugby Football League last week revealed Cunningham had been given a one-year suspended ban after traces of hormone substance HCG were found in a urine sample. But Cunningham put that difficulty to the back of his mind, and his display as Saints overcame Wakefield earned special praise from Millward.

He said: "People have no idea about what's happened. I am really proud of Keiron. A lot of things have been said about him and that he wasn't an innocent victim. Keiron's come back from a career-threatening injury, and he will be a better player for what has happened. He is a really focused player."

Wakefield's coach, Shane McNally, was pleased with his side, who at one stage led 14-0 in the first half thanks to tries from Ben Jeffries and Jamie Rooney. McNally said: "The three young blokes who came into the squad from the Under-21s this week - Mark Field, Matt Blake and Darren Jordan - even gave up days off work so they could train with the first-team squad. That's commitment to the cause."

St Helens scored tries through John Stankevitch, Sean Long and Paul Wellens - all converted by Long - while Wakefield could muster only a Rooney drop goal in response as the visitors led 18-15 at the interval. Just after half-time Darren Albert extended St Helens' advantage and Long made certain of the win with an easy interception try. Albert added his second try seven minutes from the end.

Great Britain will host a Tri-Nations Series for three consecutive years up to 2006, it was announced today. A meeting of the International Federation on Queensland's Gold Coast effectively ruled out for the foreseeable future both Lions tours and another World Cup. Today's meeting of delegates from Britain, France, New Zealand and Australia confirmed Sydney as hosts for the World Sevens next February and Britain as the venue for Tri-Series tournaments in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Australia will tour Britain this autumn, following on from the visit of New Zealand last year, but they will not have the opportunity to defend their world crown.

The Federation have decided to put on ice the next World Cup, scheduled for 2004, because of fears of another financial disaster and instead will concentrate on a series of triangular tournaments involving the three major rugby league-playing nations.

The meeting was told the Tri-Nations concept would capitalise on growing interest in the forthcoming Kangaroo tour, with ticket sales for the second Test at Hull's new Kingston Communications Stadium on 15 November approaching 15,000.

"The reports on the tour preparations are very encouraging," said chairman Colin Love. "It was agreed today that three different referees will be used in the three Tests, with the individual appointments to be agreed between the ARL and the RFL later in the year. There's no doubt the Tri-Nations events over the next three years will build on the interest we are already seeing in the game in England."