St Helens head coach Kristian Woolf has paid tribute to James Roby with the hooker preparing for his 500th club appearance.
Roby, 36, is a one-club man and made his first Saints appearance back in 2004 against Widnes.
The 500th in a Red V shirt could come tomorrow away at Leeds Rhinos under the stewardship of Woolf, a boss who Roby has picked up two Grand Final wins, a League Leaders’ Shield, and a Challenge Cup alongside.
A Merseyside local, Roby has also enjoyed 38 international appearances for Great Britain and England combined, with the first of those coming back in 2006.
Now approaching the 500 landmark playing with team-mates whose first steps were only being taken when Roby first stepped out onto the field in a Saints Super League side, Woolf says it’s one for the history books.
Woolf praises James Roby
“It’s an unbelievable achievement and one that I honestly think we’ll probably never see again,” Woolf said.
“It’s a real credit to him as a player in terms of that drive and that hunger that he’s been able to sustain for so long. You’ve got to be a special person and a special player to be able to do that.
“He plays in one of the most physically demanding positions in the game. There’s a number of them that are really physically demanding, but he’s been able to be in there with some really big men, to play 80 minutes and to have a real elite skill set.
“He’s an absolute elite player, that is probably the best way to put him. It’s a pleasure and a privilege for me to be able to work with him, that’s for sure.”
St Helens to travel to Leeds this Friday
Losing at Toulouse last time out in Super League, Saints remain top of the table on points difference, level with both Catalans and Wigan after six games.
Ahead of the trip to Emerald Headingley, Woolf admitted that Roby’s character will see his focus solely on getting back to winning ways rather than his own landmark.
“I don’t think you’ll get too much different out of Robes,” Woolf said. “He’ll prepare the same, he’ll act the same. That’s part of the beauty of him. He’s so level headed. He’s so humble, so hard working aside from all of the achievements that he’s had.
“If you ask any of the Australian players to come in and meet him for the first time, that’s the first thing that they’ll tell you as well. I can’t see him expecting or wanting anything different.
“I think he’ll want the first thing not to be about him so much and just be about cracking on and playing. We’ll obviously get to celebrate that [500th appearance], make a point of it at some stage as well.”