James Roby is fit and raring to go as the countdown to Saturday’s Saints-Wigan Warriors Grand Final gets under way in earnest.
His absence from the England squad announced on Sunday to take part in the end-of-season Four Nations Championship Down Under left question marks as to his fitness levels ahead of the showpiece of the season.
But the fears were allayed by head coach Nathan Brown who, while admitting the 29-year-old hooker might need further minor surgery on ankle problems which had troubled him over several years, said they were not causing him any inconvenience.
“Robes has got a bit of tidying up to do which at the end of the day will be to his benefit,” said Brown.
He added: “He clearly still wants to continue playing for England but he needs time out to get his body in the right shape for next season.”
Roby said: “Further surgery is an option but I’m not sure that will be the way forward. We will just have to wait and see what happens.
“I’m nearly 30 now and having played more than 340 games at club and representative level since making my debut against Widnes Vikings in March 2004, I think a rest will do me a world of good.”
Now one of the senior members of the squad - and a wealth of experience as far as big finals and derby day showdowns are concerned - he will need to stamp his authority on the game if Saints are to end an unwanted run of five successive Grand Final defeats between 2007 and 2011.
“People had written off our chances of winning the League Leaders’ Shield, never mind reaching the Grand Final, but it is extra sweet to have proved them wrong,” said Roby.
“Now we need to clear the final hurdle and I’ve every confident that we are capable of doing so.
“I know we are a relatively young and inexperienced squad in terms of big match know-how and some players will be a little nervous, but I believe we will be able to handle the occasion.
“It also goes without saying that we will have to be at our best to overcome a team of Wigan’s quality but we beat them earlier in the season at the DW Stadium and there’s no reason why we can’t repeat that result.”