Squad joy and agony for Saints

James Roby
James Roby

JAMES Roby’s anxious wait is over after the Saints international hooker was yesterday named in England’s 24-man squad ahead of this Autumn’s World Cup, allaying fears that his injury-ravaged season would rule him out of contention.

Roby, 27, suffered two separate ankle problems during Super League XVIII and started less than half the club’s fixtures during this period.

He only returned to first team action against Hull FC at the beginning of September and it was open to question whether England head coach Steve McNamara would gamble on his match fitness.

But McNamara insisted: “James is a world class hooker and will return to the squad like a new and fresh player.”

There is no place in the squad for team-mate Jon Wilkin who in past years has been a regular member of either the England or Great Britain set up and at 29 years of age his international career seems to be at a crossroads.

Wilkin, who played in the previous World Cup, said:

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“Naturally, I’m disappointed but I have to respect the decision of the head coach.”

It leaves Roby as the only Saints player in the squad but he will be joined by ex-Knowsley Road favourite James Graham, now plying is trade Down Under.

McNamara said: “After three years of excellent preparation, we are ready for what will be a fiercely contested tournament but will have to work hard to reach the very high level heded to win it.

“To have a World Cup on home soil is a massive opportunity for us to lift the trophy and I hope the public will turn up in their thousands and

show support for their country.”

England will intensify their build up for the World Cup, which they haven’t won either in their present guise or under the Great Britain

banner on home ground, when they head to South Africa tomorrow (Wednesday) for high altitude training.

They will be joined early next week by the Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves players involved in Saturday’s Grand Final at Old Trafford

*England start their World Cup Group campaign with a mouth-watering clash against tournament favourites Australia at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday, October 26.

It is followed by a showdown against Ireland at the John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield, on Saturday, November 2, and the final group game in which they face Fiji at the KC Stadium, Hull, on Saturday, November 9.

Quarter final ties will be plyed during the week-end of November 15-17 with the semi-finals a Wembley double-header the following Saturday.

The final will then be staged at Old Trafford - the home of Barclay’s Premier League champions, Manchester United - on Saturday, November 30.

g Wales have called up Saints youngster Anthony Walker to their World Cup squad.

Walker, who can play either at loose forward or in the second row, made four starting appearances for St Helens last season and was selected as

a substitute on five other occasions.

Team-mate Alex Walmsley, who moved to Langtree Park 12 months ago from Batley Bulldogs, has been foced to withdraw from the Scotland squad due to a cracked rib.