Kristian Woolf sings praises of James Roby as another landmark approaches for hooker

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James Roby Credit: PA Images
James Roby Credit: PA Images

St Helens head coach Kristian Woolf has again paid testament to club captain James Roby as the hooker closes in on Super League’s all-time appearance record.

One-club man Roby’s first run out in the Red Vee came way back in 2004 against Widnes Vikings. Fast forward 18 years and he’s now racked up 452 in Super League alone.

Joint-second with Andy Lynch and just two off top spot in Kevin Sinfield OBE, Roby will undoubtedly hit the front foot soon.

“He’s outstanding. The best leader and best captain that I’ve ever had the privilege of dealing with,” said Saints boss Woolf.

“The amount of games probably won’t ever be matched to be honest. It’s exceptional the number that he’s played and if you put internationals, Challenge Cups, and first-grade games together, that’s an absolutely exceptional effort.

“It’s one thing playing games but the excellence and the way that he competes, the effort he puts in, I see it every single game. He’s in one of – if not the – most demanding positions in the game – at 36 now and has been doing that for such a long period of time.

“That’s why he gets the accolades that he does, and why he’s had the success that he does. He’s certainly the example that I want our players to follow. I just can’t sing his praises enough.”

Finger Lookin’ Good

In last week’s win over Hull FC, Roby proved exactly why he’s one of the sport’s greats.

Dislocating his finger, he popped it straight back, bounced up and helped to force a drop out. Moments later, he then earned his team a penalty.

Australian Woolf thought that incident embodied exactly what ‘local lad’ Roby is about, saying: “That’s a great example of why [he’s such a leader] and shows that there’s a difference between being injured and being hurt.

“You don’t want players playing with injuries, obviously, but if you can play then that’s a really good example of how to handle those situations.

“I just thought it was outstanding, a real show of leadership and how he handles that occasion. He makes another big play a couple of minutes later too by putting his body on the line again. It’s inspirational.”

It’s Brilliant but Shouldn’t be Repeated

While Roby’s appearance record is remarkable, his boss doesn’t believe it will ever be seen again. Nor does he believe it should be.

“I think if we’re sensible, we probably shouldn’t see it again to be honest. I’ve said before that we do play too many games over here. It’s something we need to be having a look at.

“There needs to be a little bit of streamlining, a little bit more thought into how we actually look after the players from that point of view.

“If we do that sensibly, then you probably shouldn’t see 500+ games [in a single career] again, but that certainly doesn’t take away from the effort and the achievement of Robes, that’s for sure.”

Roby’s next appearance is sure to come tomorrow night away at local rivals Warrington Wolves. When he steps onto the field at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, it’ll be one step closer to the outright crown.

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