James Roby approaches record 532nd St Helens appearance like any other game | The Sun

JAMES Roby sums it up by describing his record-breaking appearance as just another game.

You can be sure the steward who did not believe he was making his debut feels a bit daft 531 matches later.

St Helens colleague George Delaney was just ONE-MONTH-OLD when the legendary hooker took the field for the first time.

Since then, Roby has seen six Super League titles, four Challenge Cups, two World Club Challenges, one Man of Steel award and one stadium change.

Now as he tops Kel Coslett's appearance mark, the 37-year-old is as grounded now as he was in March 2004 – but he admits he delayed his retirement to make sure he reached 532.

Roby said: “Making it was one of the reasons I went around again. I had conversations thinking, ‘Do I really need to go for that record? Will I risk further injury?’

“But the more I thought about it, the more I thought, ‘I’ve come so close, it’s been so many years of hard work and graft.’

“I was on the cusp of getting there so it was a factor that was too big to turn down – the success we’ve experienced, winning the World Club Challenge in Australia, has justified my reasoning.



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“Walking around the changing room you can’t not know Kel’s name. In his day, they used to play 40 or 50 games a season – we couldn’t do that now. I’m proud to take the mantle off someone as significant as Kel.

“The way the game’s going, reducing games due to player welfare, it’s unlikely I’ll see the mark broken for a good period of time. If I have grandkids, my name could still be at the top of that list.

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“I’d only trained once with the first team but coach Ian Millward told me, ‘You’re on the bench on Friday.’ I had trouble getting on the car park as the steward didn’t believe I was a player!

“He’d never seen me before. I was like, ‘Honestly, I am playing tonight!’

“For a hometown lad it’s a very proud moment. In another respect, it’s just another game – nothing’s changed apart from a bit more Press.

“But I don’t want to approach this differently as I’ve got here from what I do week in, week out. Why change it?”

Roby may not have changed but rugby league certainly has. Age, though, is nothing but a number, and a source of reminders from younger stars.

Roby added: “It’s scary to think I’ve been doing this every day of George’s life.

“And the younger ones have a little laugh and a joke. They say, ‘When did you make your debut?’ I’m like, ‘March 2004.’ They reply, ‘I wasn’t even born then!’

“That causes a laugh and a giggle but I’m proud of that.”

Saints boss Paul Wellens was full back as Roby made his debut in a 38-20 win over Widnes at Knowsley Road.

But while his ability is brilliant, his attitude is even better as the man now guiding the club said: “I’ve never seen him snap!

“When he came through, he was the same bloke he is now – unassuming and very grounded and he’s so low maintenance.

“He had unbelievable competitiveness and his fitness levels were off the scale. He quickly found himself at the front in training drills and he’s been there ever since.

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“And his calmness has not only made him a great player, it’s made him a great leader. He’s an ability to control his emotions, when you get over-emotional, that affects performance.

“I don’t think there’s a person involved in rugby league, whichever colours you wear, who looks at James and doesn’t respect this achievement.”

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