James Roby on retirement plans, World Cup hopes and his remarkable tackling stat

Evergreen James Roby is in no rush to put a date on his retirement plans – but has targeted an international finale in this year’s World Cup.

The 35-year-old St Helens captain watched on as peers James Graham and Sean O’Loughlin brought the curtain down on their illustrious careers after November’s unforgettable Grand Final. But Roby hasn’t ruled out playing beyond this season as Saints look to make it a treble of titles.

He explained: “I’m a realist – I’m not stupid in the fact that I know that time is coming, be that the end of this year or potentially the end of next. At the minute I’ve got this year on my deal and we’ll just have to see.

“I’m approaching it pretty relaxed and just want to enjoy my rugby. I’ll see how the body feels and have a conversation with my wife, and it depends if I get offered another deal. But I’m feeling really good.”

Although Roby could extend his Saints career into 2022, he is certain this year will he his last chance to pull on an England shirt. He will again face competition for the hooking spot from Canberra’s Josh Hodgson, Steve Prescott Man of Steel Paul McShane and Warrington’s Daryl Clark.

But Roby is keen to cement a place in Shaun Wane’s squad. He said: “I’m aware that we’ve got a long year ahead first and I want to concentrate on playing as well as I can for St Helens. But earning selection for that squad is definitely in the back of my mind.

“It would definitely be my last chance to experience international rugby and I want to give it everything I can.

"I’ve played in the past three World Cups and it would be a fantastic way to maybe end my career, especially with the way England has been going for the last few years. There’s no reason why England can’t go on and do really well.”

Roby’s performances in 2020 were certainly international quality and produced a remarkable statistic even by his relentless standards. Throughout the entire Super League season, he attempted 538 tackles and missed just five in total.

He added: “I’m not on social media so I didn’t see that at first but a few people messaged me about it. Everybody works hard every day and there’s an element of luck in it. But it sounds alright doesn’t it?

“I think the initial lockdown last year did me the world of good, along with the reduced number of games – generally the wear and tear builds up over the course of a year. I still feel mentally the same in terms of determination and attitude.”

Another of Super League’s 35-year-olds, Weller Hauraki, has confirmed his retirement after spells at Leeds, Castleford, Salford, Widnes and Hull KR.

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