FOR most Saints fans, James Roby’s place in the Great Britain tour side at the end of the season is all but a formality, writes Nathan Okell.

A consistent performer at a high level on a regular basis, he leads the way in the Man of Steel voting alongside Warrington’s Australian half back Blake Austin.

And with the Great Britain identity being revived for a tour of down under later this year, Roby is eager to book his seat on the plane.

“I made my international debut back in 2006 for Great Britain and played in the last test side against New Zealand in 2007,” Roby stated.

“When I think of international rugby, I think of watching Great Britain as a kid with players like Paul Sculthorpe donning the iconic jersey.

“I’ll be doing everything I can to get there at the end of the year and now I’m coming to the back end of my career, I definitely appreciate these opportunities a lot more than maybe I did in the past.”

If he keeps up the kind of form he has shown in the early stages of 2019, Roby will no doubt be catching the eye of national team coach Wayne Bennett, which is something the hooker is hoping to do.

“I know that the carrot dangling in front of me is not going to be there much longer so I’ve got to take it while I can,” he said.

“I love that rivalry and the battles that come with playing against quality opposition and that is what I want to be doing.

“If it happens at the end of the year it happens and I’d be over the moon, but there are lot of lads vying for that shirt and I’m sure we’ll have a good battle along the way.”

Although acknowledging he is coming towards the end of his career, Roby believes the hooking position is in great hands with young understudy Aaron Smith, who has deputised well in the captain’s absence at times this season.

“Aaron is a quiet and reserved guy, but get him on the field and he’ll work his socks off for you and that’s all you want really,” he added.

“He’s very capable, committed in defence is and similar to myself in the fact that he likes to run off quick play the balls.

“I also like how he’s got the right attitude, the right work ethic and he’s really eager to learn and play as many minutes as he can.

“I’m confident he can be the hooker at this club for the next ten years or so and he has a huge future in the game.”