Roby: We have to be ready for a hostile atmosphere

James Roby in action in against Australia
James Roby in action in against Australia

Saints’ hooker James Roby will draw on past World Cup experience as England prepare for an invasion of Tonga fans at Saturday's semi-final.

It is estimated that New Zealand contains 60,000 people of Tongan descent and they are expected to attend in their numbers at Auckland's Mount Smart Stadium in the hope of cheering their team to another shock victory.

Roby in training at the England camp

Roby in training at the England camp

The Tongans have been in party mood since the group win over New Zealand which proved so catastrophic for the joint hosts and, if the raucous atmosphere at a fans event in the city provided the England players with a taste of what to expect, they will be heading for a cauldron on Saturday.

With the Kiwis likely to cheer on the Pacific Islanders, Roby. who is playing in his third World Cup, is expecting England to face the sort of hostile reception they received in Townsville for the opening game of the 2008 World Cup when the locals got behind Papua New Guinea.

“There will be a lot of Tongans here and with the Kiwis getting knocked out they might be on the Tongan side rather than ours," Roby told Sky Sports.

“We know what we will be up against. I remember how hostile it was when we played PNG in Townsville. It was our first game and all the Aussies were on our back. When we were warming up, they were shouting stuff and trying to

sledge us.

“They hated us from minute one. They weren't even from PNG. It comes with the territory, coming here to play in the World Cup

The St Helens no. 9 is not surprised Tonga, with the likes of Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita in their ranks, are in the last four but he is confident England will be good enough to halt their winning run.

“They have been fantastic,” he said. “They are a big, physical team but we like to think our pack is just as big and can match them physically.

“I'm confident if we play like we can, we will find ourselves in the final.”