Saints hooker Roby eyes chance to play in World Cup quarters

James Roby in action for England against France last weekend. NRL Photos
James Roby in action for England against France last weekend. NRL Photos

St Helens hooker James Roby is playing a waiting game to discover if he will get the chance to play in England’s knockout games in the World Cup.

The veteran number nine was singled out for praise by head coach Wayne Bennett after helping England to a 36-6 victory over France in their final group match in Perth which secured their place in the last eight.

Roby is now hoping he has done enough to keep his spot for the clash with Papua New Guinea in the last quarter-final in Melbourne on Sunday.

Roby was recalled in place of England’s regular hooker Josh Hodgson while Mark Percival, Mike McMeeken, Scott Taylor and Kevin Brown all played their first games of the World Cup. Bennett said he was satisfied with all of their contributions.

“Wayne will speak to us during the week and tell us what his team selection is,” said Roby. “There’s good rivalry in this squad in pretty much every position. They’re all quality players.

“Obviously me and Josh are rotating in training but that’s the same for the other players. We’re all competitive by nature and it probably brings out the best in us without us even realising it sometimes.”

England flew out of Perth on Monday to set up camp in Melbourne, where they began their World Cup campaign with an 18-4 defeat by Australia three weeks ago.

Bennett’s men have yet to look convincing in the tournament, having failed to make the most of flying starts against both Lebanon and France.

“We’re aware of that,” Roby said. “We need to rectify it. We had a really good start against France and put points on the board but in the second half our completion was way down.

“I’m sure we’ll be touching on that this week. There were periods in the game when we got a bit lost and we need to get that out of our game and put an 80-minute performance together.”

Whether Bennett opts for either Roby or Hodgson or a combination of both, they will be up against two world-class hookers in James Segeyaro, who had a successful if brief stint in Super League with Leeds in 2016, and Catalans Dragons’ Paul Aiton.

“They’re well-known names,” Roby said. “We know what they’re capable of. They’re fantastic players.

“I’ve played against PNG a couple of times, they’re a very physical team.”

Among a host of eye-catching performers for the Kumuls so far is winger Garry Lo, who will make the move from Sheffield Eagles to Castleford next season and is set to go up against England’s top tryscorer Jermaine McGillvary.

Lo picked up a calf injury in his side’s 64-0 rout of the United States on Sunday, but McGillvary is hoping he recovers in time for Sunday’s game.

“I’m hoping to play against him,” said the Huddersfield winger, who has scored four tries in three games so far. “He’s having an outstanding tournament and that’s why I love being here, I want to test myself against the top players.

“He’s a young man who’s going to take Super League by storm next year. He’s a wrecking ball. It will be good to test myself against him and vice versa. I’ve played against a few wrecking balls, like Justin Carney, in my career. I always like the challenge.”