Like a fine wine: James Roby reveals how close he came to retiring

·3-min read
James Roby St Helens SWpix Credit: PA Images
James Roby St Helens SWpix Credit: PA Images

St Helens legend James Roby has admitted that he was mentally ready to retire midway through this season, but he got a second wind which lit a burning ambition inside of him.

The 36-year-old will equal Jamie Peacock’s record of 11 Grand Final appearances against Leeds on Saturday as he seeks to cap off the year with a sixth Grand Final ring.

“At probably the halfway point in the season, it was pretty much nailed on, I was mentally ready to retire,” said Roby.

“I was telling everyone I was retiring and was really honest about it, that was how I was thinking.

“When I made that decision, I probably didn’t anticipate feeling as well as I am now, both mentally and physically. I’m still going well.

“I weighed up all the pros and cons – and there were considerable reasons for both. But I kept coming back to the fact that the team are still challenging for trophies. Why would I not want to keep a part of that?

“We’re challenging for four in a row. I don’t see any reason why we can’t be challenging for trophies again next year. I want to win as much as I can.”

Another factor behind his decision to continue playing is the opportunity to break Kel Coslett’s record for most St Helens appearances.

The Wales legend played 531 games between 1962-76, and Roby will make his 522nd appearance on Saturday.

“That’s another motivating factor,” he said. “It takes a lot of time and effort to be challenging for that.

“We’re all competitive by nature, we want to win and beat records. If it comes, it will be a proud moment.”

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Roby announced his retirement from international rugby league in 2021 having won 39 caps in total for Great Britain and England.

And whilst he will continue playing for his hometown club, he insists there will be no U-turn on his international retirement, despite calls for him to play in the upcoming World Cup on home soil.

“I keep getting asked this question and actually I feel almost sorry for the other hookers because I think they’re doing a great job,” Roby said.

“The reason I announced my international retirement was that I thought I wouldn’t be feeling as good as I am.

“But I’ve got to stick to my decision because I’ve committed to one more year with Saints. And I want to be fully prepared for that.

“I want to have a nice rest and have a good pre-season. I don’t want to be one of those players whose form dips.

“I’m very happy with the international career I’ve had. I’ve been very lucky, I’ve been all over the world and had great times and got great memories.”

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