James Roby is stepping into the boots of an illustrious band of St Helens’ legends.
The 32-year-old hooker, who took over the club captaincy last week, will be following in the footsteps of household names such as Chris Joynt, Paul Sculthorpe, stand-in skipper Sean Long, James Graham, Keiron Cunningham, Paul Wellens and Jon Wilkin.
These are players whose leadership skills have been instrumental in ensuring Saints remain one of the giants of Super League.
“I just hope I can be as successful as my predecessors but looking at the name - and the aura they have created over past year - they will be a hard act to follow,” said Roby, who will embark on his 18th season in the famous Red Vee jersey when Castleford Tigers visit the Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday night.
It will be a proud moment for the former Blackbrook youngster who in a trophy-filled career has collected almost every honour in his chosen sport and will be hoping to land more silverware during his tenure as captain.
He is also fully aware of the extra responsibility which comes with representing his home town club, both as a player on the field and an ambassador off it.
“When I was first selected for the senior squad against Widnes in 2004, the thought of eventually becoming skipper never really crossed my mind.
‘’All I wanted to do at the time was play rugby and cement a place in the first team but that wasn’t easy when Keiron Cunningham was number one choice as hooker at the time.
“But now, as one of the club’s more experienced pros, I understanding the importance of my new role. and the extra responsibility it brings
“Being named captain of the club is the pinnacle of my career and it goes without saying that I will give it my best shots.’’
However, the Great Britain and England international insists that nothing will change on the field and he will still be looking for support from the club’s leaders, including ex-captain Jon Wilkin.
“Jon will be a difficult act to follow but I know I can rely on him, as well as some of the other senior players, and at the same time help with the development of our up and coming youngsters who are knocking on the first team.’’
One key area in which he will be looking for improvement is consistency - something lacking at times in 2017 - and maybe turned out to be main the reason why no trophies came Saints’ way last year.
“I will be looking for a better start this time around and the Cas match will give us an early barometer of how we will perform.
“Like all other clubs, we will be setting our sights on success in the Betfred Super League, as well as the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup which we haven’t won since 2008, and I believe we have a squad capable of being among the honours.”
Saints’ fans will no doubt share his optimism.