SAINTS have been rocked by a shattering injury blow to Saints and England hooker James Roby which will rule him out of the battle for Super League play-off places.
There are fears his chances of playing in World Cup during October and November will be jepardised by the ankle ligament injury, which Roby picked up during the first half of Sunday’s 40-24 win at Castleford.
It is a hammer blow to Saints who had only just welcomed Roby back to first team action following a 10 game absence with a similar injury.
Saints head coach Nathan Brown yesterday confirmed that 27-year-old Roby now faces surgery and will be sidelined for at least 10 weeks
“We are disappointed at the loss of a player of James’ calibre but once again it presents an opportunity for another member of the first team squad to step up and cement his place,” said Brown.
“He’s not so flush,” Brown added. “They feel he may have done the exact same injury on the other foot, which is not great.
“The trendy word for it is syndesmosis. He’s tested positive for two signs of it so it’s not 100 per cent but he’s certainly not going to be good because James Roby doesn’t come off. He’s a tough kid.
“If it is the same injury, it’s a 10-weeker.”
England coach Steve McNamara will be anxiously awaiting news of the injury when he arrives back tomorrow from his three-week fact-finding trip to Australia.
Roby went straight into the England team for the game against the Exiles last month, just two games into his comeback for Saints, and could now be sidelined until the middle of September, just six weeks before the opening World Cup match.
The injury took some of the gloss off Saints’ backs-to-the-wall victory at the Wish Communications Stadium, where they trailed 10-0 after 18 minutes after conceding early tries to Richard Owen and Jordan Tansey.
But Saints hit back through winger Tom Makinson on 22 minutes and he added two more in the second half to complete his hat-trick and clinch an 11th consecutive win over Castleford.
“The boys responded well after half-time basically on the back of holding onto the ball and I thought we defended Rangi Chase better in the second half,” Brown added.
“In the first half he had the dinner suit on, we gave him too easy a time. In the second half Jon Wilkin did a great job in helping take him out of the game for a period of time.”
Castleford coach Daryl Powell admitted his side had taken a step back after three consecutive wins had raised hopes of reaching the play-offs.
“I’m pretty disappointed,” Powell said. “It was a good opportunity for us and at half-time I thought we were good value for where we were.
“I thought we should have been further in front. We dominated the game but they got us with a couple of sucker punches.
“Then we just didn’t come out at the start of the second half and, once St Helens get you by the throat, they are pretty good.
“I expected there to be a few points today because of the conditions but it’s not an excuse. Defensively we should have been better.
“Today was a step back. We’ve just got to keep working hard and front up in our next game.”
Powell played down an altercation on the pitch between Tigers team-mates Rangi Chase and Keith Mason, after which the latter was replaced.
“There was a little bit of a disagreement which tends to happen when players get a bit frustrated,” Powell said.
“It’s nothing major. I’ve seen that plenty of times in the past. I don’t think we’ve got too much to worry about.”