James Roby is hungry for more Saints silverware

St Helens Star: James Roby James Roby

TEST hooker James Roby was aged just 20 when he played his part in helping Saints pull off a clean sweep of all available honours in 2006.

In the blink of an eye he is now one of the mature leaders of the new-look Saints squad but Roby does not want to look back at those early years with pure nostalgia.

Instead, after five years without a major honour, Roby says his memories of picking up trophies in his formative years in the red vee give him the hunger and desire to end that silverware drought.

He is not alone; there is still a cluster of players in the side – Paul Wellens, Ade Gardner and Jon Wilkin – who knew nothing but League Leaders’ Shields and Challenge Cups in the noughties. They will also be eager to ensure their careers do not tail off with a medal imbalance of feast and then famine.

With Saints arguably assembling their strongest squad since 2006, in real terms and relative to the rest of the competition, there is a real mood of optimism going into this campaign.

And Roby, who will run out for his deserved benefit game against Wigan on Friday night, is determined to turn those high hopes off the field into big performances on it.

He said: “The desire is massive. There are a lot of lads in our squad now who have not won anything, but people like me Wello, Wilko and Ade were in the 2006 team that won everything and at Wembley in 07 and 08.

“With me being young at the time I maybe took success for granted a bit – we were St Helens, always league leaders and winners. We could turn up to games and as long as we were confident we would win.”

In rugby league the balance of power shifts, Saints have not found the last five years easy coping with the loss of big beasts Keiron Cunningham, Sean Long and Paul Sculthorpe coinciding with the investment needed in the move from Knowsley Road.

Although the fall from their place as top dogs as not been as dramatic as Bradford - the other side that dominated early Super League - that is of scant consolation to a team and town that craves success.

Roby added: “As players, we have not forgotten what success feels like and we want to introduce that to more of the lads.

“There is that desire inside you that once you have experienced it, tasted winning cups, it makes you want it even more.

“Being a St Helens lad and living in the town people do remind you that we have not won a trophy for a while. I think that is a good pressure to have because that is what St Helens is known for – a top club who wins trophies.

“I wouldn’t want it any other way so hopefully we can win something this year. It would be a real ‘thank you’ to the fans for the hard work and dedication they have shown us over the years.

“There’s no better way of thanking them than winning trophies.”

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