James Roby aiming to lead St Helens back to Wembley

James Roby in action against Catalans Dragons in the first cup final at new Wembley in 2007
James Roby in action against Catalans Dragons in the first cup final at new Wembley in 2007

History-maker James Roby will lead out Saints at Huddersfield on Sunday hoping it will be the first step on the road to Wembley where not too many years ago the 12-times trophy winners viewed it as their second home.


Skipper Roby won the Challenge Cup on three consecutive occasions in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and is the only member of the current Saints playing squad who has tasted success at the Mecca of British sport following the departure of Jon Wilkin to Toronto Wolfpack.

The hooker, who also has the distinction of scoring the first try at the revamped Empire Stadium 12 years ago in a 30-8 victory over Catalans Dragons, told the Saints' web site: “I have nothing, but fond memories of going to Wembley and playing in the Challenge Cups.

''I have been fortunate earlier on in my career to win three Challenge Cups back to back so I realise, since we have not been to Wembley for quite a while now, how lucky I was.

“It is definitely a great experience and I am trying my best to stress to some of the lads how important it is and the sacrifices that we make on a day-to-day basis and how worth it is when you get to Wembley like that.”

Head coach Justin Holbrook admitted earlier in the week that the Giants will be a different challenge given the sudden-death nature of the competition and 33-year-old Roby concurs with his boss and insists that consistency will be key to the outcome.

“It is great and very exciting the way the competition is now with three wins and you are at Wembley,'' he said.

'The international number nine went on: ''We know it’s going to be a tough game, Huddersfield will fired up in front of their own fans, but it is a tie that we are really looking forward to.

“It’s a new competition and a bit different from the week to week Super League and they will definitely be attacking it a bit differently.

''Huddersfield are a quality team and they have some big men who will try and trouble us as well as little trick plays and offloads so we are going to have to be on our game and concentrate, but I am confident if we can stick to our game, play the way we do, we can get a good result.”

Holbrook has made one change to his 19-man squad ahead of the match with Aaron Smith replacing Jack Welsby

Roby added: “It is a luxury for us we have Aaron who can play my position and it is great for the club he has signed a new deal and I am really made up for him.

''He is a young lad who works very hard and does the right thing on and off the field and I think he has got a good future.”

Matty Costello retains his place and Adam Swift is included. Once again Holbrook has the luxury to pick from three halves with Danny Richardson, Theo Fages and Jonny Lomax all named.

Luke Thompson, Mark Percival and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook are still out with injury, while three ex-Saints players, Lee Gaskell, Jordan Turner and Paul Clough, are named in the Huddersfield quad.

St.Helens 19 man squad: 1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Kevin Naiqama, 5. Regan Grace, 6. Theo Fages, 7. Danny Richardson, 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby,
11. Zeb Taia, 12. Joseph Paulo, 15. Morgan Knowles, 16. Kyle Amor, 17. Dom Peyroux, 18. Adam Swift, 19. Matty Lees, 20. Jack Ashworth, 21. Aaron Smith, 23. Lachlan Coote 24. Matty Costello.

Giants 19 man squad: 1. Darnell McIntosh, 2. Jermaine McGillvary, 4. Jordan Turner, 6. Lee Gaskell, 7. Matt Frawley, 8. Paul Clough, 9. Kruise Leeming, 10. Suaia Matagi, 11. Aaron Murphy, 12. Alex Mellor, 14. Adam O’Brien, 15. Oliver Roberts, 17. Ukuma Ta’ai, 19. Matty English, 23. Oliver Russell, 29. Sam Hewitt, 31. Louis Senior, 32. Innes Senior, 35. Joe
Wardle.

Tickets for Saints’ Coral Challenge Cup Round Six clash with the Huddersfield Giants at the John Smith’s Stadium on Sunday (kick off 6:05pm) are on sale from just £10 for adults.