Keiron Cunningham, who knows a thing or two about playing hooker, has paid his one-time understudy James Roby the ultimate accolade.
After watching Roby mastermind Saints’ 41-0 victory over the Castleford Tigers in the Super League qualifying play-off at Langtree Park on Friday night
“He is right up there with the top three in the world,” claimed Saints’ assistant boss following Roby’s man-of-the-match performance in which statistics later revealed he had made 41 tackles - more than any of his colleagues - and 132 metres during the match.”
Cunningham said: “Robes has been outstanding for a full season and while I’m not a fan of stats in the last three weeks he has made 65 tackles and more than 200 metres and there isn’t a no. 9 who can come near that and still perform.”
Of the team’ near error-free display, he said: “We were absolutely brilliant and I suppose you couldn’t have asked for anything better.
“All you ask for as coaches is for effort and attitude and we got that in abundance tonight.
“We toughed it out against Huddersfield the previous week with only 12 men after Alex Walmsley’s first-half dismissal and it was only when we lost and looked back we thought it was a bit of a win really.
“We were good as a team for that experience and it put us in a play-off mentality.
“We saw the good things we did in that game with one in the middle missing and with a full acquisition on the field we knew we would be
in with a good shout.
“We needed to work hard for 80 minutes and that is what we did.”
On the other hand, a far from happy Cas coach coach Daryl Powell turned his focus on the performance of the man-in -the-middle James Child and insisted: “We didn’t get a thing from the referee, who I thought was horrendous, even though I say that every time I see him.”
But Powell added: “I thought Saints were just too good for us. We still look like we’re low on energy when it gets really tough and in the second half we lost our composure under a fair bit of pressure.
“It was clearly not good enough and we need a response. We’ve got to be better than that.”