The versatile forward was named player of the year at under 16’s, 18’s and 19’s but had to leave the club when he was told he wouldn’t be given another contract.
Now he is plying his trade with Rochdale Hornets and is looking to prove a point when he goes head to head with his former employers at Langtree Park on Friday night.
“It’ll be tough but it’ll be good, I’ve sort of got a point to prove because I left the club last year.
“I want to prove to them I’m as good as I have ever been.”
It was tough for him to leave a club that holds a place in his heart and gave him a platform to start his career in league but it was a certain St Helens coach that made it easier for him to join Hornets.
Ian Talbot is a youth coach at Saints as well as being head coach at Rochdale Hornets and he knew of James’ talent having coached him at u20’s.
“That was a big part of it, knowing the coach and knowing the coach likes my style of play – that was a big influence for me.”
Tilley made his first appearance as a full time Rochdale player on Saturday in a 44-6 victory over Rochdale Mayfield and enjoyed getting on the pitch and playing after a tough pre-season.
“It was different to what I’m used to because of how amateurish the game was because we were playing an amateur team but it was good.
“I enjoy games where it’s tough down the middle, I enjoy them type of games where people are trying to get one over on you in that way.
“We proved a point really; we hammered them in all aspects of the game.”
Saints will be a different test for Hornets come Friday as they will look to throw the ball out wide more and play expansive rugby.
According to Tilley though, that will work in their favour as he believes it is important to come up against different types of opponents in pre-season.
“It is (important) yeah because when we go into the season we’re going to find a mix, we’re going to find that there’s some sides that are going to be quick and have a quick pitch and play quick rugby.
“Other teams will be slow and it will be a total forwards game and all they will want to do is play down the middle, so you need to find that mix so that when the hit the season that you hit the ground running and will be able to cope with all aspects.”
He, along with the rest of the squad, cannot wait for the 2015 season to start and has stated that the goal for the team this year is to regain promotion to the Championship.
If they are to do so then going head to head with Saints in preparation for a promotion push will not hurt their chances come the start of the season.