16th August 2020, 18:37 | StHelens
James Roby joined an illustrious group of players on Sunday as he made his 500th career appearance in St Helens’ hard-fought 10-0 victory over Castleford Tigers at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Roby hit the milestone after making 457 appearances for St Helens as well as earning 36 caps for England and seven for Great Britain.
The instrumental hooker is a three-time Super League winner, three-time Challenge Cup winner, a seven-time League Leaders’ Shield winner and has also lifted the World Club Challenge on one occasion. Roby has also won the Super League Man of Steel and Harry Sunderland Awards, holds a win-record of almost 70% during his club career with St Helens and has crossed for over 100 career tries.
The one-club man originally from Whiston, Merseyside, Roby was picked up by St Helens at an early age and graduated via their successful Academy. Saints Chairman Eamon McManus recalled the moment he met Roby, in a video posted on St Helens’ social media channels.
“I first met James – he probably won’t remember – I think it was 17 years ago at a prize giving at Cowley when the Headmaster stated, ‘I think we’ve got a useful player here’ which turned out to be the understatement of the century.”
Roby made his St Helens debut against Widnes Vikings in 2004 and has been a constant presence in the side ever since. His early years often saw him coming on from the interchange bench as a replacement for legendary Saints hooker Kieron Cunningham, whom he would go on to succeed following Cunningham’s retirement in 2010.
Two years on from his debut, Roby would feature in a famous St Helens side which completed the domestic treble before lifting the World Club Challenge in 2007.
Roby’s first taste of silverware came in the form of the Challenge Cup as the hooker came on from the interchange bench as St Helens dominated Huddersfield Giants 42-12 at Twickenham Stadium. Roby also featured in the 2006 Super League Grand Final victory over Hull FC.
A heavyweight clash with NRL Premiers Brisbane Broncos followed in 2007 at the University of Bolton Stadium with Roby starting the game at hooker.
Roby would write his name in Challenge Cup and Wembley Stadium folklore later that year as he crossed for the first-ever Rugby League try at the new Wembley Stadium as St Helens beat Catalans Dragons 30-8 in the Final.
The Englishman would go on to be named Super League’s prestigious Man of Steel in 2007 an award which had previously been won by fellow St Helens legends Sean Long, Paul Sculthorpe and Paul Wellens.
Unfortunately, after lifting three consecutive Challenge Cups and four consecutive League Leaders’ Shields, Roby and his St Helens side would suffer a tough period between 2007 and 2011 in which they would lose five straight Super League Grand Finals; four against Leeds Rhinos and one to local rivals Wigan Warriors.
However, once the Old Trafford hoodoo was broken, Roby was pivotal winning the Harry Sunderland Trophy for a Man of the Match performance in St Helens’ 14-6 victory over Wigan.
In recent seasons, Roby has helped St Helens dominate the Super League with the Saints winning back-to-back League Leaders’ Shields as well as the 2019 Grand Final in which they knocked off Salford Red Devils 23-6.
On the international stage Roby has featured in both the Four Nations and Rugby League World Cup Final for England.
Roby made his international bow for Great Britain in a 14-18 Tri-Nations defeat against New Zealand in 2006 and would earn seven caps for GB throughout 2006 and 2007. His only Great Britain try came in a 42-14 victory over France in June 2007.
Since 2008, Roby has been a constant presence in the England set-up debuting against France in 2008 and with his most recent appearance coming in the 2018 Denver Test against New Zealand.
The St Helens man has scored five tries for England, including a double against France in an 84-4 victory in 2015. Roby played a full 80 minutes against Australia in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Final, but unfortunately fell to a 6-0 defeat in Brisbane.
Ahead of Roby’s 500th career appearance, a number of tributes have been paid across social media:
Congrats to James Roby on achieving 500 games today. A great competitor and a great bloke. To play such a physical game like Rugby League in the middle of the field and play consistently well for 500 games is absolutely outstanding.
Our leader is James Roby. He sets that example and everyone follows. He is exceptional to deal with and I can’t speak highly enough of him.
I think we can all agree is not only one of St Helens’ greatest players of this generation but all generations. His contribution to the club on and off the field and his performances on it, the level at which he performs every week throughout his 16-year career has been something to behold. He goes down as one of St Helens’ greatest-ever players, one of Rugby League’s greatest-ever players in my view and one of Britain’s greatest all-round athletes.
A modern era GOAT – just so so good every week that he got taken for granted except for his team mates. Only the very best can give you a consistently excellent performance. And Robes has and still does that. Welcome to the 500 club.
500 appearances is an unbelievable milestone and I’m sure when you started out your career you didn’t envisage playing that many games but it is testament to your professionalism and your durability as a player to be able to reach such a milestone. I can say as a former teammate and now a coach that I’m very proud to have been part of that journey and watch you grow as a player and a person.
Giving the position he plays and the way he plays this is unreal! An absolute honour to play alongside the man.