28th February 2019, 14:41 |
James Roby walked onto the field like years before; the white socks, white shorts and white jersey, fitted with the red vee, his wrists and thumb strapped into place, like others, a crooked nose, a reminder of the battles he’s faced so far going into his 15thSuper League season.
He’s 33-years-old now and recently signed a contract extending his career at Saints until 2021, a veteran in Saints’ side highlighted by the fact that he won the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel award back in 2007, a year after his teammate Paul Wellens won the prestigious award.
Ellery Hanley, Paul Sculthorpe and Andy Farrell are the only players to have won the award on multiple occasions, three of the biggest names in Rugby League history, another stellar year for Roby with some silverware and he could leave a legacy like the three before him.
A new Man of Steel awards system will most probably suit the most consistent performers in the competition, the hooker, has been Mr. Consistent throughout his career in Super League.
Plenty has changed since he made his debut in 2004, he’s no longer a youthful hooker filled with potential, but captain of a youthful resurgent side who will be looking to fulfil their potential and go one better than last year and finish as Champions.
His experience of two Grand Final wins will be invaluable to those inexperienced players, but his performances should St Helens get to the Grand Final will be deserving of the Man of Steel award, and that will be hotly debated – everyone has their own opinions - his performances so far have been impressive and that is why the panellists have awarded him eight of nine points so far.
The players surrounding him haven’t gone unnoticed, Luke Thompson has continued on from last year that earned him an international call-up and the return of Alex Walmsley has been a massive boost for the unbeaten St Helens side.
Ellery Hanley MBE spoke at the start of the season that the Man of Steel award is an individual award that cannot be won without the support of the players and it also recognises their performances, if Roby is to stay at the summit of the leader board, his team mates Thompson and Walmsley will play a big part of that.
If he is to win the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel award, he’ll leave a legacy and join players like; Hanley, Sculthorpe and Farrell as the only players to win the award on multiple occasions.