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Wednesday, 8 August, 2001, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
Big brother rules out Keiron claim
Keiron Cunningham
Cunningham is staying at Knowsley Road
The brother of Keiron Cunningham has hit out at claims that an ineligibility row stopped the St Helens star swapping codes.

Eddie Cunningham, who played for Wales in the 1975 Rugby League World Cup, said he was left extremely angry by suggestions that his brother had not been eligible to play for the Dragons.

The younger Cunningham's move to join Swansea rugby union club fell through this week, and one of the reasons mentioned was that he had failed to provide documentary evidence of his Welsh qualifications.

For it all to rear its head 25 years later I just can't believe it
Eddie Cunningham

But Eddie, a former loose-forward with the Saints, said: "I was absolutely dumbfounded when this was brought up.

"When I was called up to play for Wales in 1975, I provided a copy of my grandfather's birth certificate.

"We beat England in the World Cup in Australia and - although I was born and living in England - I was proud of the result.

"For it all to rear its head 25 years later I just can't believe it."

Eddie, who also saw another brother, Tommy, play for Wales, said that family reasons were behind the collapse of Keiron's move to south Wales - not money or ineligibility.

There can only be one winner - and that's rugby league
Eddie Cunningham

"At the end of the day, his wife made the decision that she would sooner stay in St Helens," he said.

"I don't think she will realise what she is missing. I have played and stayed there and enjoyed it.

"It was a family decision at the end of the day. He couldn't have gone on his own and left the wife and kids behind."

Keiron's decision to extend his contract at Knowsley Road means he will not now pull on an All Whites jersey for Swansea.

It's something that elder brother Eddie would liked to have seen.

"I trained with Scott Gibbs when he was at St Helens and Keiron is the same stamp and would have made a big impression," he said.

It's a big decision and now the side - especially after such a good display against England at Wrexham - can go forward
Kel Cosslett

"I know Graham Henry, who's a good judge of a player, was considering him at centre. It's a great pity, but there can only be one winner, and this time it's rugby league."

Welsh RL team manager Kel Cosslett also had no doubts of Keiron's eligibility.

"His two elder brothers had to produce documentary evidence, so there were no problems at all," he said.

And Cosslett thought the events gave Welsh rugby league a big shot in the arm.

"It's a big decision and now the side - especially after such a good display against England at Wrexham - can go forward," he said.

"I hope the players will start looking at Keiron and following his lead."

BBC Wales ScrumV - with Jonathan Davies and Eddie Butler
BBC Wales ScrumV

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