JAMES Roby admits he will be feeling the nerves when he wakes up tomorrow morning, but thinks last season’s Grand Final success will stand Saints in good stead.
Roby won the Harry Sunderland Trophy for his man-of-the-match display in last season’s 14-6 win over arch rivals Wigan - with Saints overcoming adversity in the build-up to and during the final itself before claiming the title.
We experienced it last year through a lot of adversity and hopefully we use that as a positive experienceJames Roby
And the hooker, who was named in the 2015 Super League Dream Team this week, says the experience will only strengthen Saints ahead of the do or die semi-final against league leaders Leeds Rhinos.
“It’s one that is within our reach. We experienced it last year through a lot of adversity and hopefully we use that as a positive experience,” Roby explained.
“A lot of the lads took confidence from that - it was a great learning curve for a lot of the younger members of the squad and it’s exciting times - but we have a big job on Friday first.”
Roby admits this weekend’s play-off matches, Leeds v St Helens and Wigan v Huddersfield, will prove too tight to call for many punters.
But he is confident his side can repeat their result last time out against Leeds, when Saints beat the Rhinos 32-18 at Headingley to avenge three previous defeats this season.
“It’s up in the air but from my perspective I’m confident in our own ability,” he said.
“If we perform as I know we can we can get the job done and whoever we get to play in the Grand Final it would be a tough game anyway.
“There will definitely be nerves.
“Any player who is involved in the game will have varying degrees of nerves playing part of the game.
“It’s such a big game and one we’re looking forward to it’s almost - the past goes out the window and all that matters is this one game and everything is at stake to get to Old Trafford.”
The semi-final will be the last stepping stone on the path to the Grand Final for the first season under the new rugby league structure.
The play-offs have be trimmed to the top four teams in a straight shoot-out for a place in the Final, following the Super 8s phase to decide the semi-final contenders.
And Roby thinks last weekend’s battle for the League Leaders’ Shield illustrates how the new structure has ramped up intensity - illustrated by the fact Leeds snatched the prize from Wigan in the last play of their clash with Huddersfield last Friday.
“Leeds against Huddersfield - you can’t pick a winner - but Leeds to snatch it there at the death was crazy really wasn’t it,” he said.
“I suppose that reinforces this new league structure with it going down to the final second for the League Leaders’ Shield.”
“I think it’s been fantastic since we’ve split to these Super 8s and from a player’s point of view it’s very intense.
“There are big games week on week and mentally from the start of weeks you have to switch on that little bit more - that little bit earlier if you like. It’s kind of relentless in that kind of pressure you have on you.
“But it’s your job as a player to cope with that on the pitch and they are the games you want to be involved in. It’s fair to say on the day all four teams are probably capable of winning this Grand Final now.”
Roby is also hoping his season doesn’t end with the Grand Final should Saints get there.
Following another impressive campaign in the red vee, the 29-year-old is hoping to add to his 21 England appearances by earning a call-up for this autumn’s Test Series against New Zealand.
“I’m available so hopefully if I’m selected I’ll be playing against the Kiwis,” he said.
“There’s fierce competition in a lot of positions and it’s fair to say now we have more competition for places then we have in the past. It’s a good position to be in.”