SAINTS skipper James Roby returns to the fold for Sunday’s Magic clash at Anfield after another week of resting his niggles.

It has been a change of approach for the long-serving rake, with the 33-year-old admitting he could have played in all the games he has missed so far.

But the bigger picture in keeping fresh for the big games whilst advancing the development of understudy Aaron Smith has had a two-fold benefit.

Roby said: “I would rather play every game, but I am at an age now where I realise that it may be better to miss a game, like last week, so that I am right for this week.

“I don’t stress about not playing as long as I make sure I am right for the week after.

“Plus at the same time it is giving Aaron Smith more game time and that in turn is giving more trust in him from the staff, club and supporters.”

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He is, however, glad that he is not sitting out this game at Anfield - particularly as he is a keen Reds fan.

“My dad is a bigger red than me and his side of the family are all Liverpool fans.

“We have a few in the team – and Kyle Amor never shuts up about Liverpool.

“To get the opportunity to play here is one of those places where you will think back on after you retire.

“Liverpool FC is a massive global brand – especially with how successful they have been. Their run in the Champions League and just missing out on the Premier League adds to it.

“Hopefully with it not being too far away we can get as many fans as we can as,” he said.

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However, the skipper did have a reminder to his teammates - not to get distracted by the occasion against a very capable Cas side.

“It is a change from the usual week-in, week-out, and with that are its own different challenges.

"It is easy to get caught up in the playing at Anfield aspect rather than concentrate on your game.

“It is a challenge we have to meet and overcome it.

"We are doing well on the pitch this year, but off the pitch too we are going well in terms of attitude, the way we approach games and our work ethic around training.

“We hang our hats on the work ethic, desire and togetherness that binds us together week-on-week.

“It is a different week, and Justin will reference that, but our job will be the same once that whistle goes,” Roby said.

Saints have already played and beaten Castleford this year - a 42-12 drubbing in March.

That night they harassed and harried the Tigers with a strong defence and then racked up the points.

Saints will again have to do a job.

"Cas are a free-flowing attacking side and the key for us is shutting them down and getting stuck into them.

"That is what we did at the start of the year and we have to replicate that on Sunday.

"They are a great team on the day and we have to stifle that," Roby said.

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Saints' win over Salford and Warrington's defeat at home to Hull has meant that there is now a six-point gap between first and second.

But the lead at the top is not something that figures in Roby's thinking and it will not affect how Saints approach the games ahead of them.

Roby said: "We won’t be referencing the six-point cushion at any time – we are in charge of our own destiny.

"We are not looking behind us. We want to improve week on week and stick to what we are doing and carry on picking up the wins.

"We are in a good place – training hard preparing well and the weather is getting better with a bit more skill on show."

What has been key to them carrying on winning has been the way the young players have stepped up - Matty Costello, Aaron Smith, Jack Welsby and Friday's match-winner James Bentley.St Helens Star:

"This is the culture of the club and the playing squad we have developed over the past two-and-a-half years.

"You are in the team you are obviously good enough, but you have to be a good person, and work hard first and foremost.

"We are very lucky that we have a good production line – Aaron Smith, Jack Welsby and a host of other lads waiting in the wings to get their chance.

"They are getting their chances and filling in as good as the people whose place they are taking which is great for us as a club and for the future.

"A few years down the line there might be a few changes with players finishing but we are in good hands at the minute.

"We have to keep that going and we are almost in a self policing environment.

"For me I understand that I am at age where I am coming to the back end, but at the same time I still want to lead the team and do everything I can to be out there.

"Hopefully I can sort myself out this next couple of weeks and have a good finish to the season.

"It is a long season, you never know where and when you are going to get an injury.

"But I have played long enough now to look after myself and know how my body heals and how I will feel in a few days time."

There is a strong sense of the whole club - the fans, board, coaching staff and players all being on the same page as they seek to get back to winning the big trophies they have sought since 2014.

Read: Justin Holbrook's latest Q&A>

And Roby was especially keen to praise the role of the supporters in finding their voice when it matters.

"There have been a few times this year where the fans have lifted us as players.

"That energy feeds us. If you have thousands of people shouting at us then you are going to do it.

"It is really uplifting for us – they lift us and then we lift them in return.

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"Support like that could be the things that turn a big game. Maybe one good defensive set, where you pin them back and they can only get to our 40 with the kick and then Regan, Cootey or Tommy bring the ball back to past half way we are back on the attack, they are under pressure and they crack.

"That could all come as a result of that initial set inspired by the fans - so hopefully they can carry on," he said.