St Helens’ former Great Britain winger Ade Gardner has announced his retirement after being offered a job on the club’s backroom staff and his former team-mate Sean Long could join him at Langtree Park.

There is strong speculation that Long, who won an unprecedented hat-trick of Lance Todd Trophy awards as man of the match in the Challenge Cup final during a period of unparalled success at St Helens from 1997 to 2009, is wanted by new head coach Keiron Cunningham as his assistant.images7Y2JZ7U0

Saints, have announced the appointment of the 31-year-old Gardner as assistant strength and conditioning coach after calling time on his playing career after more than 350 appearances.

Gardner, who played the second half of the 2014 season on loan to Hull KR, said: “Whilst it is difficult to walk away from the game in terms of playing, I’m delighted to take on this role at the club.

“I was going to retire at the end of 2015 but the club offered me this role to move into and it made sense. In the end it was the best decision for me and my family.

“I am retiring with a heavy heart. I had 15 good seasons at the best club in the world and have fond memories not only here but with Barrow, Hull KR and Great Britain too. “But the opportunity to remain at this great club was too good to turn down.

“I am currently in the third year of a Sports Science degree at Loughborough University and this role will enable me to gain good insight and experience into this part of the game.

“I’d never say never about playing again but the focus for now is on this new role and I can’t wait to get started.”

Grdner scored 173 tries in 286 appearances for Saints after joining them in 2001 from his home-town club Barrow. He was a member of the club’s 2006 Grand Slam team and scored two tries in their win over Brisbane in the 2007 World Club Challenge.

Cunningham said: “We’re delighted Ade has agreed to join the backroom staff here at the club. “He is a superb professional who will bring a wealth of knowledge to the role built up over several years as a top level rugby league player. “His work ethic is second to none and he has always been one of the best trainers at the club.”

State of Mind would like to wish Ade all the very best in his change of career and thank him profusely for wearing our tee-shirt in warm-up at Hull KR this year it is really appreciated!