HULL KR coach James Webster has labelled St Helens fans “spoilt” and told them to lay off chief Keiron Cunningham.
Saints, the six-time Super League champions, host Rovers tonight seeking to avoid a fourth successive defeat.
Cunningham, the legendary hooker who led them to much of their glory in the summer era, is coming under mounting pressure from supporters.
But Webster said: “I think St Helens fans have been really spoilt over the last 10 years.
“Their 2006 side was probably the greatest team I’ve seen in Super League.
“They had two or three internationals that could not make their 19. But the format and structure of the competition has changed; you can’t fill your squads with the same amount of people, players salaries have gone through the roof and you just couldn’t now fit the type of team St Helens had in 2006, 2007 and 2008 under your salary cap.
“English sport does not allow, for some reason, a mediocre year.
“I don’t know why but they just don’t seem to. If you’re one of those teams that’s always challenged, the fans expect you to always challenge. I think that’s unfair on Keiron.
“In my opinion he’s done a good job and they need to lay off him and understand things aren’t what they were seven or eight years ago, for all teams not just St Helens. The landscape’s changed.
“The way you can get players in clubs, the salary cap, injuries…. St Helens aren’t immune to what everyone else is going through.”
Hull KR are looking to put the heartache of their last-minute loss to Wigan behind them when they head to Langtree Park.
They must do so without captain Terry Campese who has suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury while full-back Ken Sio has returned to Australia for the birth of his twins.
Rovers, realistically, have to win to have any chance of still making the top eight.
But Webster is not expecting Saints to continue falling.
“They’ll be a dangerous team this week,” he said.
“They will see this as a game they have to win to stay in touch with fourth spot. But we go there confident and looking forward to it. We’ve trained well this week.”