“One more year!” St Helens boss reacts to calls for James Roby to play on

James Gordon
James Roby

Chants of ‘one more year’ bellowed around the Totally Wicked Stadium as St Helens fans honoured history-making James Roby at the weekend.

Roby, 37, chalked up a new club record 532nd appearance for the reigning champions and put in a typically high quality 75 minute performance to help his side to a 26-12 victory over Salford.

Having postponed retirement talk to go around again for another year in 2023, Saints fans will no doubt be hoping that the legendary Roby might be persuaded to do so again.

His form and quality has shown no sign of wavering, to the extent that coach Paul Wellens felt comfortable enough to not even have to name a recognised hooker on the bench, leaving Joey Lussick as 18th man.

It is widely expected that Warrington hooker Daryl Clark will make the move to fill the number nine shirt expected to be vacated by Roby at the end of the year, but until it’s confirmed, Saints fans will keep on dreaming.

Wellens said: “I actually went out for dinner last week with my wife and Robes and his wife, and we had a conversation but at no point whatsoever did I try and persuade him to do another year!

“I think his mind is firmly made up. I think it’s probably a smart decision on his part because what he’s achieved in the game and the amount of collisions, how hard he works, the amount he invests in being the top end professional he is at some point will take its toll.

“I haven’t met a more mentally strong, resilient individual in all my time in the game.

“I’m sure if you made him do another year, he’d do it! But ultimately, the right thing has got to be his call and I’m sure in this being his last year, after the conversation that we’ve had, that he’s made the right call.”

A day of celebration for St Helens’ record breaker

A break from Roby breathed life in to St Helens in the first half and helped them get on the board before half-time, before a blistering start to the second half blew Salford away.

Roby was given a guard of honour by both teams and a stack of former team-mates before the match, with Saints’ players all warming up in ‘Roby 9’ shirts.

St Helens fans, who were given ‘Roby 532’ cards on their way in to the ground to mark the milestone, unveiled a banner calling Roby the greatest of them all, and he was interviewed on the pitch post-match.

In a move typical of Roby, even when Wellens dragged him off on the 75th minute for a ceremonial round of applause, he sprinted off the pitch to enable his replacement to get in to position as quickly as possible.

Wellens added: “That’s typical Robes. He does everything with an intensity. He understands that if he’s dawdling off the field it takes the next player longer to get on. That’s how detailed he is in his approach.

“He works hard to the very last second, he’s even prepared to sprint off the field when his time is done.”

The momentum around Clark’s predicted move to St Helens continues to grow, with Warrington now heavily linked with signing Brad Dwyer from Hull.

Dwyer came through the academy at Warrington before moving on to Leeds, and his arrival would surely spell the end for Clark’s stay, given Danny Walker has recently signed a new long-term deal at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

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