Shaun Wane gutted James Roby will not be in mix for England's World Cup squad
England boss Shaun Wane is pressing on with his meticulous plans for next year's Rugby League World Cup but at the same time cursing his luck that St Helens skipper James Roby will not be in his final squad.
The former Wigan head coach, who has been on the other side of the fence in many Super League derbies, said: ''If I'm totally honest - and speaking from a selfish viewpoint - I’m absolutely gutted I have never been given a chance to coach James.
''I rate him highly as a player, having coached against him many times at club level.''
Wane added: "It's hard to put into words what he has done for the game. He's a credit to his club where he has stayed loyal throughout his career and as a hooker he puts his body on the line all the time and that's immense.
''Whenever we played Saints during my time as Wigan boss, I always tried to put pressure on him but he just toughed it out.
''He is a quality bloke I desperately wanted to coach but when he rang me to say he wanted to concentrate on having a last season at club level, the humble way he said it told me everything I needed to know.''
Robes, who announced his retirement from international football a few months ago, would more than likely have been included in his country's World Cup squad had the tournament not been postponed for 12 months due to the pandemic and the withdrawal of Australia and New Zealand.
The St Helens captain, now 35, said: "I was hoping to be selected for RLWC2021 this autumn but 2022 is a year too far and time waits for no man.
"I've had some incredible experiences and standing for the National Anthem as an England or Great Britain player is something I'll never forget.
"I'll be supporting Shaun and the boys next year and there's no reason why they can't go all the way."
Wane firmly believes that the World Cup delay could help England in their bid to win the trophy for the first time since 1972.
He insisted: ''I'm an eternal optimist and the way I look at it, in the big scheme of things as a sport, it's really disappointing for me and many other people, who have worked hard to get this World Cup on, but 12months' delay is not the end of the world.
''I'll use the time to make sure my players are even better prepared and I feel that's the only stoic way we can look at it.''
Had the World Cup taken place as scheduled some of the nation's emerging young talent, such as Jack Welsby of St Helens, may not have been experienced enough to claim a place in the squad but that is now a realistic possibility.
Wane firmly believes that England can go all the way and declared: ''We are in good shape.
"The Super League clubs are also doing a great job producing young talent but we can't sit back and pat ourselves on the back.
''We have to work hard and we have to get better staff, better quality, everything has to improve. That's the mentality we must have."