YOUNG Saints rake Aaron Smith had the unenviable task of stepping into the boots of skipper James Roby on Friday night - but he emerged from the encounter knocked about but with his reputation enhanced.

The 23-year-old was making only his 11th start in the number nine jersey, with Roby sidelined as a result of the late head knock sustained against Hull KR the previous week.

Although still pulling out top drawer displays, and long minutes to boot, with the Saints captain turning 35 in November thoughts inevitably turn to eventual successors in the nine shirt once the dynasty started by Keiron Cunningham and carried on by Roby finally comes to an end.

Smith staked his claim at Headingley when he started strongly, providing zip and variety from dummy half, and even bounced back after a heavy head knock to keep probing, pressing and working.

His early kick through yielded the opening score for Lachlan Coote, and then he was on the spot to collect Alex Walmsley's unorthodox offload and cross.

Coach Kristian Woolf said: "I was really happy with Aaron, he has been doing 25 -30 minute stints for us in the second half and has to sit there the whole first half and wait for James Roby.

"You get used to coming on when the game is a bit slower. But I thought he did a great job.

"He took his chance and made it his priority to come out and start well and take on the physicality early.

"The best thing about him for a bloke has been playing short minutes was not once was he looking to the sideline for a break.

"He copped a heavy head knock and it looked like he wasn’t going to come back on, but he recovered really well."