x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Cunningham fit for final league match

Keiron Cunningham will lead out St Helens in their last league match at Knowsley Road on Saturday with Castleford after recovering from a jaw injury.

Keiron Cunningham will lead out St Helens in their last league match at Knowsley Road on Saturday with Castleford after recovering from a jaw injury. It was feared the former Great Britain hooker may have played the last match of his distinguished career when he sustained a suspected broken jaw in Saints' 36-10 win over Crusaders 10 days ago. But Cunningham, who is retiring at the end of the season after 16 years in the game, had those fears removed by scans which revealed a damaged capsule in his jaw.

"It's not something that will keep me out of the game," he said. "I've resumed full training with the team so I've got over my scare."It was a relief. I remember Darren Britt finishing his career early with a broken eye socket. I didn't want to go out that way." The news is a timely boost for Saints as they prepare for the match against Castleford, which is the last of the regular season, and the Super League play-offs.

"We feared the worst straight after the game," said coach Mick Potter. "The initial diagnosis wasn't good. It gives us a boost going into the last game and then the semi-finals." Saints will also have the services of Kyle Eastmond, the England scrum-half, after he made good progress recovering from a hip injury. "Kyle did a few skills on Monday, nothing too strenuous, but he got through those okay," said Potter. "He might have a bit of discomfort but he'll play."

St Helens are definitely without Matty Ashurst (knee), the second rower, but expect Matt Gidley (Achilles) and Francis Meli (calf) to shake off injuries in time to face the Tigers. Stand-off Leon Pryce will see a specialist on Thursday to determine whether he needs to undergo neck surgery, while Maurie Fa'asavalu, the prop forward, was visiting a specialist today to determine when he can make his comeback. Fa'asavalu, who is switching codes with Harlequins at the end of the season, has been out for two months with a shoulder injury and has also had a plate inserted in his foot.

Saturday's game will be the last league match before St Helens move out of their famous old ground, although they are guaranteed at least one play-off tie at home. * Press Association