ROY of the Rovers type story lines very rarely happen in cold, hard reality of professional sport – but when they do occur it takes a special sort of character to pen them.

Two-time Man of Steel Paul Sculthorpe did his very best impersonation of Roy Race when he strode out into the middle of a freezing cold Reebok Stadium 20 minutes into the 2007 World Club Challenge.

Saints were trailing 8-0 to a Darren Lockyer-inspired Brisbane Broncos – but Sculthorpe’s arrival immediately lifted the 23,207 supporters in the arena.

Sculthorpe had been plagued with a knee injury for the previous 18 months, and after going under the knife the previous September had been told that he would only be back for April.

That was no good for the determined former Great Britain skipper, who had suffered the torment of an in and out season during Saints’ all-conquering 2006 campaign.

Having been forced to watch the Grand Final triumph, and listen to the chattering voices declaring that his career was finished, Sculthorpe had decided that he still had enough in his locker to sock it to the Aussies one more time.

Sculthorpe recalls: “It was my first game for six months. I had literally only been back training with the team on the Tuesday before and I got a spot on the bench.

“I had struggled with this knee injury on and off for 18 months but you don’t lose your capabilities to read a game and do things on the field.

“The time out was frustrating more than anything because I knew what I was capable of, but I had had a good off season and after the operation in September the surgeon said I would only be back for April.

“Obviously, because we had won the Grand Final, I knew we had a crack at the Aussies in February.

“I worked with strength coach Apollo Perelini straight through the off season and I have a lot to thank him for.”

Saints went into the World Club Challenge game on the back of defeats to Harlequins and Wakefield. But cometh the hour, cometh the Man of Steel.

“It was a special day – everything seemed to go right,” Sculthorpe said “Although I have probably had a lot more impact in other games in terms of what I did on the field people still talk about that second Broncos one because of the occasion.”

An early Cory Parker try and a couple of goals put the boys from the sunshine state in the driving seat.

But Saints got a toe-hold in the game just before the break with an Ade Gardner try in the corner.

And three guesses who put his hand up to kick it.

Sculthorpe said: “I just felt strong from the first touch with the goal kick from Ade’s first try.

“I had not kicked a ball in six months and Longy had lost a bit of confidence in goalkicking and asked me if I would kick the goals if I came on.

“I had not touched a ball, but hit that one sweet, straight through the middle and immediately thought it was going to be one of those days – and it was.”

Although Darius Boyd grabbed a try just after the break, that simply set the scene for Sculthorpe to add a few more lines to a dream script when he strode on to Keiron Cunningham’s flat pass and powered over.

It was still nip and tuck, and Saints fell behind again to another Parker penalty, but with 10 minutes to go, Long lofted the ball high for Gardner to pluck out of the air and ground.

Again the faultless Sculthorpe goaled and Saints held on to claim their second world title win over the Broncos in seven years.

Sculthorpe, who was outstanding in Saints’ equally gripping 2001 triumph over the Broncos, was delighted with both wins.

He said: “It is not true that the Australians are not up for it when. You only have to look at the footage of Darren Lockyer after the game to show that is rubbish.

“People of Lockyer’s calibre, and in 2001 Wendell Sailor and Gorden Tallis, don’t give games up.

“They won’t be trying any less than they did in a Grand Final – they are representing their clubs, Australia and themselves – they are not going to go into a game half-hearted.”