THE man at the helm of St Helens rugby league club has revealed how his desire to see greater awareness of autism will fuel his challenge to take on the London Marathon.

Mike Rush, Saints’ chief executive, is in training for the run to support a cause “important to both him and the club”.

The 42-year-old father-of-four from Windle, who will be joined on the challenge on Sunday, April 22 by his friend Martin Hill, aims to break down some of the misconceptions about the autism spectrum.

Mike told the Star: “At Saints we work a lot with St Helens local authority supporting various charities, and autism awareness is something that is important to us, which can be seen with our Magic Weekend shirts.

“We have seven or eight members of staff working at the club who are on the spectrum.

“After watching Chris Packham’s Asperger’s and Me I realised a bit more about what people and families go through.

“It really is a spectrum, no two people are the same and I know quite a few people with the condition, so decided to do something and challenged myself into doing the London Marathon.

“I think more needs to be done to raise awareness of autism and that it affects everyone very differently, not everyone is like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.”

Mike, who will run in aid of the National Autistic Society, is widely known across rugby league having progressed through the ranks at the club, where he started in junior player development.

He had trained as a school teacher and played international rugby league for Scotland before his playing career was curtailed by injury.

The demands of running the Super League leaders and having a young family mean Mike, who is not an experienced runner, has had to juggle his schedule to fit in training and he is readying himself for a huge challenge.

“I have got up to running 25km so I need to get out there and train some more, but I’m hoping people will support a cause that’s important to me and the club.”

Saints’ Magic Weekend shirts will be worn by the first team at St James’ Park in Newcastle when they take on Widnes Vikings, on Saturday, May 19. The kit was produced in association with the St Helens Autism Support Charity (SAS).

The shirt can be pre-ordered at or at the Saints Totally Wicked Stadium.

n To donate to the marathon challenge visit