Royce Simmons leaves St Helens following disastrous start to season

 

St Helens have parted company with head coach Royce Simmons just seven matches into the Stobart Super League season following the club's disastrous start.

Simmons, who was in the second year of a two-year contract, guided Saints to a fifth successive Grand Final last October but has paid the price for the club's worst ever run in the summer era.

Saturday's 12-8 loss at Bradford was their fourth straight defeat and they have taken just a point from their last five matches, their worst run since 1985.

Simmons' right-hand man Kieron Purtill has also stepped down and Saints have appointed head of performance Mike Rush as acting head coach, with former captain Keiron Cunningham as his assistant

St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus said: "Our season has got off to a difficult start and it is best to make change sooner rather than later.

"We have every faith in Mike Rush and Keiron Cunningham. They each know the club inside out and have all the experience together to take us forward."

The 51-year-old Simmons recently spoke about the pressure on him to deliver silverware to St Helens, whose last trophy success was in 2008 when they lifted the Challenge Cup under Daniel Anderson.

Saints have badly missed England hooker James Roby, who has sat out their last two matches through injury, but their dismal run began with a draw at Hull KR a month ago, followed by a dramatic last-second home defeat by Catalan Dragons.

They have subsequently also lost to Huddersfield, Hull and Bradford and face a Grand Final rematch with Leeds at Langtree Park on Sunday.

McManus added: "I would like to go on record to pay genuine tribute to Royce Simmons. He is a fantastic person and of absolute character and integrity, who has given everything to the club.

"I am sure that everyone at the club joins me in thanking him sincerely for all his work and dedication and to wish him and his family well for the future.

"Our sentiments are the same with Kieron Purtill. Force of circumstance has reconstituted change."

Rush and Cunningham will be in charge for the clash with the Rhinos but are likely to be only in temporary control while St Helens seek a permanent successor to Simmons.

Anderson, who was last week appointed as Exiles coach for the two-match series against England this summer, has already ruled out a return to St Helens, which leaves Huddersfield head coach Nathan Brown as the clear favourite.

Brown, who has turned the Giants into genuine title contenders during his three years at the club, last November confirmed his intention to step down at the end of this season and the club have already announced he will be succeeded in 2013 by his assistant Paul Anderson.

The former St George Illawarra boss was expected to return to Australia but, with top jobs in the NRL scarce, he will be tempted to stay in Super League if offered what is widely considered to be a glamour post with Saints.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot