JAMES Roby will be looking to become the first Saints skipper since Chris Joynt to lift back-to-back Super League titles when he leads the side out against Wigan on Friday night.

The fact that the men in the red vee have not accomplished this feat since the first year of the new Millennium underlines what an achievement it would be after this most troubled of all post-war seasons.

But the 35-year-old hooker, who will be running out for his ninth Grand Final, knows that Saints' oldest rivals will pose a formidable challenge.

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James Roby won the Harry Sunderland in 2014.

And if their last encounter of the regular season is anything to go by, it will be a tough, tense and torrid 80 minutes to decide which side of the lump the trophy will be heading.

Roby said: "It's is an achievement in itself to go to back-to-back Grand Finals, but to go on and win it would be extra special.

"It has not been done many times and it shows how difficult it is.

"We will be doing everything we can to achieve that - any team that achieves that would definitely deserve the recognition."

It will be a Grand Final with a difference - rather than Old Trafford's Theatre of Dreams the showpiece game is being played behind closed doors on the east coast at Hull's KCOM Stadium.

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The red-and-white bedecked hordes may not be there to roar, or chant at their counterparts, but that will do little to diminish the fire and ferocity of this all or nothing encounter - the first final the sides have contested since that tumultuous 2014 affair.

"There is no getting away from the rivalry and hostility of a Saints v Wigan game.

"It is drummed into you from an early age.

"Saints and Wigan are both well-respected, successful clubs and known for that fact.

"It means that we are always trying to outdo each other, like a mini battle between two towns right next to each other.

"We are both similar in that regard. In both towns people love their rugby league and that is all we have been brought up with as kids," Roby said.

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Saints were given a bit of a touch up in that final game of the regular season, a defeat which stopped them collecting a third consecutive League Leaders Shield.

It did, however, tune them in for what is expected in this all-or-nothing encounter - and give them a close up look at some of Wigan's individual and collective strengths.

Roby added: "Wigan are strong across the park. But individually Bevan French at the back is a dangerous player and you don’t want to give him too much space. Sam Powell has had a fantastic year at nine and Jackson Hastings is dangerous again and likes to run the ball.

"And then they have the likes of Zak Hardaker and Oliver Goldarty, who like to take you on in the inside.

"They play like a team and we are going to have to be at our best to get a result."

Roby regretted that the supporters, who normally follow week-in and week-out, are missing such a monumental occasion - but this has been part and parcel of this Covid-impacted 2020.

The fact that both teams are actually going to bring the curtain down on a season on Friday is probably an achievement in itself, given that the campaign has been something akin to snakes and ladders.

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The rules, regulations, restrictions and routines have been hoops that all the teams have had to jump through during the year - and adjusting to that and a game without the energy from fans has also been key to success as much as playing capabilities.

"Every team has got used to adjusting on the way and being flexible who playing and where," Roby said.

"At the end of the day we have to get on with it. If it was over the field in a public park then you would still get the same intensity out of the players.

"We have to create a bit of that atmosphere ourselves, but once that whistle goes and we kick off then all concentration will be on the game.

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Ian Talbot in team warm up

"This year has been so disrupted and so different, with changes to the opposition at the last minute, and even changes to the structures in the play offs.

"The governing body, with the help of the clubs, have made decisions on the go to adapt.

"It is nice to know that this week is the final week and next week onwards we will get time off .

"But we know that the hard work we have done – including the 16 week lockdown at home, where we had to be really disciplined and train with limited resources, weights and equipment, has been worth it.

"When everyone reported back after 16 weeks it was almost 'get back to normal as quickly as possible' for the players.

"Luckily for us the hard work we did during lockdown has definitely paid dividends and helped us to get where we are now," Roby said.