St Helens boss Paul Wellens paid tribute to captain James Roby following his all-time record appearance for the club against Salford.
The 37-year-old hooker made his 532nd appearance in the Red V at the Totally Wicked Stadium against the Red Devils, live on Channel 4.
The reigning champions were made to fight from 12-0 behind to claim a 26-12 victory at home in a huge day for one of their hometown heroes.
Already Super League’s all-time record appearance holder, Roby overtook Kel Coslett’s record that has stood since 1976.
Roby was interviewed inside the ground following the triumph to chants of ‘one more year’ by supporters, with 11,881 watching on inside the ground.
“I actually went out for dinner with my wife, James Roby and his wife and we had a conversation and at no point whatsoever did I try and persuade him to do another year,” Wellens joked post-match.
“I think his mind is firmly made up and I think it’s probably a smart decision on his part,” the St Helens boss continued.
“What this bloke has achieved in this game, the amount of collisions, how hard he works, the amount he invests into being the top end professional that he is will at some point 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.”
“There was no way the team wanted this to be a disappointing day for him.”
Roby played 75 minutes until receiving his first break on the bench, having started the game at nine as he so regularly does, and was greeted by a loud cheer upon his exit from the action.
The ex-England and Great Britain international was also welcomed onto the field ahead of kick-off by a guard of honour by both sets of teams.
“My mind was made up to bring him off, then he made a bit of an error which he very rarely makes and it looked like I was bringing him off because of that, but that certainly wasn’t the case,” Wellens continued.
“He’d been out there for a long period in the middle, at his age, in those conditions, name me another player in the game who can do that? And he’s doing it at the age of 37.
“It speaks volumes for him as a person and a competitor and there’s no coincidence that this team has been successful in recent years with James Roby as its leader.
“Roby is held in such high regard among the playing group and there was no way the team wanted this to be a disappointing day for him.”