JAMES Roby has already declared that next year will be his last – but before he reaches that self-declared finish line the veteran Saints skipper still has business to do.

And tonight’s clash with Catalans at Old Trafford, remarkably Roby’s 10th Grand Final, sees the non-stop hooker presented with an opportunity to lead the side to history.

Having led the side to back-to-back Grand Finals, taking his personal record to W4, L5, Roby can guide the team to the three-peat.

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And he leads a team that bounces into the season’s finale – with form being strong on the back of the club’s first Wembley win since 2008.

He said: “Winning at Wembley was fantastic for the club for a number of reasons. We had not won at Wembley for a long time to get that out of the way was good.

“But there is always that little bit of doubt…can a team that wins at Wembley find the enthusiasm to keep going for the rest of the year and find the performances.

“But we have also improved since then, we are going into this game in better form than we went into the Challenge Cup Final.

“We are also aware that that does not mean anything and if Catalans play better than us on Saturday night they will be remembered as the champions and not us.

“It is something that we are proud of, and we are proud of the fact that we have responded and rallied toward this back end of the year but there is one more to go.”

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The game ia eagerly anticipated and finely poised. Not only is it 1 v 2, champions against the League Leaders – it feels like Saints against the Rest of the World.

All the neutrals will be backing the Dracs, who have won two of the three encounters between the sides this term.

Among them was the Magic encounter, won by a James Maloney golden-point drop goal after the Dragons had rallied with three tries in the closing five minutes.

It all adds ingredients to a melting pot in the competition’s first Grand Final at Old Trafford since 2019.

Roby said: “We are in the final for a reason and we are a successful team, a very good team on our day, hopefully we can get our own jobs in order before we start worrying about Catalans.

“At the same time Catalans are a fantastic team who are League Leaders and they burnt us there at the end of Magic to score three tries with five minutes to go, you couldn’t write it.

“We know what they are capable of, and we have done our homework on them – but likewise the same with us.

“We are preparing for a really tough game.”

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The game comes 15 years after Roby’s first final in 2006, which incidentally was the Dragons’ first year in the Super League following the merger the creation of UTC – a merger between Catalan XIIII and St Esteve.

With a 10th final looming, Roby could be forgiven for all the finals merging into each other – but he recalls his Old Trafford debut vividly as a 20-year-old, along with contemporary James Graham, in Daniel Anderson’s star-studded team of Jamie Lyon, Paul Wellens, Keiron Cunningham, Sean Long et al.

Roby said: “I remember the first as being super special.

“It was against Hull and there was probably about 10 minutes to go in the game and I kind of knew we had won and there was a smile between a few of us and the thought that we defend a few sets and we have got this wrapped up.

“That was nice because we could enjoy it and take in the atmosphere of the last 10 minutes.

“But I have obviously had a lot of bad experiences and I suppose as a senior player or older player I definitely don’t take that for granted any more.

“I know what it feels like to come here and lose and wouldn’t wish that on anybody.

“I am so privileged to be in my 10th one and that is a reflection of what we have done as a club as well.

“The club have been fantastic with myself – and hopefully one more next year.”

Roby has noticeably turned back the clock with his performance this past 18 months – after a few years of niggly injuries in 2017 and 18.

He credits a rare silver lining from the dark cloud of Covid as aiding the rejuvenation of his body.

That three or four months of no car-crash, bone-crunching collisions, has greatly assisted – with Roby back to being an 80-minute, all action nine on both sides of the ball.

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Roby said: “The Covid break has helped me.

“In 2019 and maybe going back further I was really struggling with groin issues and Covid came as a perfect time for me and probably a lot of lads in rugby league too because players are often carrying some sort of knock.

“That 16 weeks at home meant we could still train and keep ticking over without putting the body through the rigours of contact of body on body.

“I’d like to think that has helped me out with one good year left in me.”

With Joey Lussick coming in next year to work in tandem with the skipper at nine, Roby has already declared that 2022 will be his swansong – and he is happy to go out on his own terms.

But don’t expect a tail off from Mr Perpetual Motion – the former Blackbrook Royal is driven to go out on a high for both himself and the team he leads.

“It was a hard decision to announce when I will be finishing because you kind of think about playing as long as you can or call it a day.

“I could feel it come and thought I’d like to go out on my own terms – next year is my last one.

“We have made that decision and I am going to commit to that and give it everything I can until the day I finish,” he said.