WHEN it comes to testimonial games, James Roby could not have picked better opponents for Friday night than the double winners and local rivals Wigan.
It is expected that the rivalry, the travelling support and the anticipation to see the new signings will push the gate past the five figure mark.
Saints will field their strongest possible line-up against a Wigan side that will be putting their finishing touches to their preparations ahead of their early start to Super League next week.
Although it is classed as a friendly, Roby knows that there is no such thing against the Warriors. And that is mutual – especially with Shaun Wane at the helm and the fiery Michael McIlorum facing him at dummy half.
Roby said: “Being a hometown lad, there is no better opposition for a testimonial.
“I have grown up with the rivalry of Saints v Wigan and would like to think it will be game that gets most fans there.
“Wigan are bringing a strong side – same as us full strength apart from injuries – so it will be two teams going at it for a last hit-out before the season starts.
“We have been in training and a few lads are bouncing around.
“As the week progresses we will sense it more and be switched on a bit more. We don’t need anybody shouting at us to fire us up when Wigan are in town.
“They are a strong team, who defend well and are aggressive. They are the champions so there is no stiffer test than that.
“This is going to be so much tougher than last week but hopefully the conditions hold up.”
Now entering his 11th season as a first teamer, Roby is excited about the year ahead and the team’s prospects.
He feels that the addition of the big men, plus having an out-and-out number seven will assist his game no end.
“There is definitely a bit of a buzz at the club and in town and everyone you talk to seems to be excited especially because of the big lads we have signed.
“We have brought in some great players who have strengthened our squad.
“We have cover in any position now and if we do get injuries we have players to fill in.
“One of the most pleasing things is the squad is so young. The lads who made their debuts last year have had another year and that is going to help them out,” Roby said.
“A lot being made of the big men and if I can play off the back of them it will be fantastic for me.
“The more defenders Mose and Kyle can shrug off and the quicker the play the ball.
“That is how I like to play – fast off the back of that.
“If that helps my game out that will bring something different to this season, “Mose caught people’s eye in the World Cup and when they see is name on the teamsheet people will notice having seen what he is capable of in terms of flying out of the line and hurting some people. That will definitely work in our favour.
“The comp for places is great – we can see that in training. The lads are trying to out-do each other but that simply brings everyone up a level.”