James Roby may play on but his record will never be broken

George Riley
James Roby St Helens SWpix

The Super League record belonging to James Roby is unlikely to ever be broken, with the St Helens great tipped to play on for one more year.

That the verdict of legendary St Helens full-back Paul Wellens, the club’s assistant coach. 

The former Great Britain international says the longevity of players like Roby is unlikely to be seen again in a sport now prioritising player welfare; and being urged to cut back on fixtures for that very reason. 

“If we are honest the schedule is too much and someone like James Roby could play nearly 40 games a year so something has to give especially when you are an ageing athlete,” says Wellens on this week’s Love Rugby League Podcast.

Wellens, also an assistant coach with Shaun Wane’s England squad, believes the national team’s prospects are being hampered by an overload of games, which he believes was behind Roby’s decision to retire from international rugby league.

He added: “It is something the game needs to look at. We want to have our best players available, fit and raring to go come the back end of the year.

“It is unfortunate for James Roby that he has to make a decision about retiring from international rugby; so he needs to give his body a rest.

“It is going to be very difficult to break Roby’s record for that reason. We need to reduce the amount of fixtures because the demands on the players are too high. If the game goes in the direction that it should and the amount of games comes down then this is a record that should never be broken.”

PODCAST: Paul Wellens on James Roby, England & coaching ambitions

Could James Roby make an England u-turn?


Wellens played 495 times as a one-club man for Saints. Roby is set to surpass Kevin Sinfield’s record of 454 games in Super League alone.

Wellens says any hope of Roby announcing a u-turn on his international retirement is unlikely, but he would not be surprised if he played on for one more year with Saints when his contract runs out at the end of this year.

On Roby, Wellens said: “He is super fit, the fittest player that I have ever come across in the sport. In past international camps, players from other clubs are gobsmacked by his levels of fitness.

“I still think he is the best nine in the competition and I’d be amazed if many disagreed. Robes made the decision to call time on his international career. We respect that and how can you not given what he has done in the game?

“But I’m sure if he picked up the phone to Shaun Wane and made his intentions clear that he’d like to be part of the World Cup then Shaun would be delighted with that.

“You would never say never but I’d be very surprised if he made a u-turn. There is talk of him hanging his boots up at the end of this year… But I’d never put anything past James Roby.

“I don’t think he’ll come back for England but James is his own man and a very determined individual. When he puts his mind to something it happens.”

LOVE RUGBY LEAGUE: All the latest news, Podcast, App & Fantasy RL