Gossip: Could James Roby make international return for World Cup?

Ray Mour
James Roby playing for England against Australia

St Helens legend James Roby could be set to make a u-turn on his decision to retire from international rugby league and play for England at the World Cup.

Sources close to the England camp suggest the national team haven’t given up on the hooker taking to the field this autumn.

The 36-year-old announced his retirement from internationals in September after the World Cup was postponed for a year.

But his exceptional level of performance has been maintained, despite it being anticipated that 2022 will be his final season as a player.

Roby hasn’t played for England since the mid-season international against New Zealand in 2018.

MORE: Give James Roby a statue – he’s alongside Cameron Smith as best ever

NRL hooker Josh Hodgson out for the season with an ACL injury, and Daryl Clark is playing for an out-of-form Warrington side.

Castleford’s Paul McShane and Leeds’ Kruise Leeming are the other hookers in Shaun Wane’s training squad.

Wane would apparently also like to tempt Catalans’ number nine Michael McIlorum back in to the England picture.

The Leeds-born hooker previously played for England in 2012 and was in the 2013 World Cup squad, before playing for Ireland in 2017.

He also played for Ireland at the 2008 World Cup.

Not so Bravehearts

NRL players Kevin Proctor and Nicho Hynes will not be featuring for Scotland at the World Cup, after it was found they are not eligible.

The pair were included on a list issued by the NRL earlier this year of players eligible for other nations.

Proctor’s heritage is through a great-great-grandfather, which like with Hynes, means his links are too far removed to meet the IRL’s criteria.

Meanwhile, Josh and George Griffin are also not eligible – despite having previously been named in a Scotland squad back in 2014.

Wire recruitment

Warrington are more active than most in the transfer market, especially in light of Mike Cooper’s surprise departure to Wigan.

Newspaper reports have linked them to NRL props Paul Vaughan and Josh McGuire, having already confirmed the signatures of Sam Kasiano and Gil Dudson for next year.

A raft of players are leaving at the end of their contracts, though one of those isn’t thought to be Stefan Ratchford, who is believed to have signed a new deal to remain at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

Marquee man Gareth Widdop is reportedly off to Castleford, to replace Hull-bound Jake Trueman.

One surprise name doing the rounds in rumour land is that of Wigan prop Oliver Partington.

He is on contract at Wigan for 2023 and has made two starts and 10 substitute appearances for the Warriors this season.

Structure changes

Talk has gone quiet on structure changes while the re-alignment talks went on between the RFL and Super League, which recently saw the announcement of a new 12-year deal with IMG.

Some clubs seems convinced that the previously mooted two divisions of 10 teams at the top of the professional game will happen at the end of 2023.

That will impact on club budgets as they recruit to ensure they finish in the top 20 clubs next season.

Meanwhile, the Women’s Super League may make further changes in light of the continued development of the game.

They have increased to 12 teams for 2022, though this has taken the form of one group of five and another of seven, after Castleford’s late request to drop down.

There is a clear gulf between the top handful of teams and the rest.

It is thought that chiefs want to get to a stage where there are eight competitive teams in one league with an appropriate spread of players.

Would James Roby be your starting hooker for England at the World Cup? Let us know in the comments below.