Roby hails stellar Saints as they end Holbrook’s time in charge with final win

Hooker has been through it all with the club.

By Press Association Published: 13 October 2019 - 10.41am

St Helens captain James Roby reckons the Grand Final-winning team of 2019 is the best in his 15 years with the club.

The evergreen hooker was in the all-conquering Saints team that completed the treble in 2006 and played in six consecutive Grand Finals up to 2011 but he believes Justin Holbrook’s side tops the lot after they rounded off two years of Super League domination with a 23-6 victory over Salford.

The game at Old Trafford marked Roby’s 450th appearance of a career that began as a substitute against Widnes in March 2004 and now includes three Grand Final triumphs.

James Roby says this St Helens team is the best he's played in
James Roby says this St Helens team is the best he’s played in (Martin Rickett/PA)

“It’s hard to compare teams from different eras but in my opinion this team is the best for a number of reasons,” Roby said.

“The calibre of the blokes we’ve got, there’s no bad apples in the group, we’re really strongly connected and the work ethic that drives everything we do,.

“We’ve got a full team of grafters who will do whatever they need to do to get the job done and I think that showed on the field this year.

“I’m hugely honoured and privileged to be able to call myself the captain.”

Tries from Morgan Knowles, Zeb Taia and Mark Percival, along with five goals from Lachlan Coote and a first drop goal of his career by Tom Makinson, ensured that Holbrook ended his tenure with a major trophy.

“It feels amazing,” Roby added. “It’s obviously such a privilege for myself as a hometown lad and to lift the trophy is a dream come true. As a child you watch your heroes doing it.

Roby, here in 2005, has been through it all with Saints
Roby, here in 2005, has been through it all with Saints (David Kendall/PA)

“It’s one of those that I probably won’t realise until a few years down the line when I start thinking back. I’m just so proud to do it and proud because of the bunch we’ve got at the minute.

“The work ethic in the club has been driven by Justin. We’re all sad to see him leave but it was great it was capped off in that manner.

“It’s a chapter in Justin’s coaching career that’s brought to a fitting end but you never know, he might come back!”

The Old Trafford triumph helped erase the memory of two semi-final setbacks in 2018 and a shock defeat in this year’s Challenge Cup final against Warrington at Wembley.

“At Wembley we knew we got it wrong on the day but to come out and not lose a game after that is credit to the group,” said Percival.

“It’s still sinking in but I’m glad the group got what we deserved. It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.

“People have spoken about us not being able to win big games and to finally get it off our backs is one of the best feelings I’ve had in my life.

“We wanted to make sure that all the hard work we’ve put in through the year paid off and we got our rewards.

“You could see in the celebrations, it was more of a relief for everyone. We just couldn’t believe we won and I still can’t now.”