‘I got that fire in my belly’: St Helens’ James Roby on his decision to keep going in 2023

James Roby says the chance to win more trophies was too good to resist after penning a new deal to go again with St Helens.

The Saints skipper and Super League record appearance holder has agreed a one-year extension after deciding to play on for another season.

Roby may be 36 but he continues to be among the top players in the competition, and having started this year convinced it would be his last before retiring, he made a sudden about-turn a couple of months ago.

“I was almost talking myself into finishing, saying ‘this is the time’,” said Roby, who remains retired from England duty despite a clamour for him to return for the World Cup.

“I was listing all these reasons and saying maybe now is the time, don’t go on too far. 

“I had a few phone calls with good friends and I’d changed my mind within ten minutes. I came back and my wife was like ‘what’s up with you?’ It was almost a complete U-turn. 

“I felt reignited and thought ‘let’s go for it’. There are more trophies to be won, more joy to be had as a Rugby League player being with the boys and the staff. 

“That’s what life is about, you’ve got to take some risks. I was worried about being a bit too old and I understand I am older, but I know my own body, I’ve learned how best to cope. The opportunity is there, so let’s take it.

“Immediately after I made the decision, I got that fire in my belly and I thought ‘come on, we can do this!’ 

“I’ve got opportunities to win more trophies and so why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?”

The other big will-he-won’t-he saga at Saints revolves around head coach Kristian Woolf, who says an announcement on his own future should be made in the near future.

In the meantime, Woolf is delighted to see Roby vow to play on and says it is “the right decision for him”.

“A little while ago – probably a couple of months ago – he asked for a chat and he’d changed his mind,” said Woolf.

“He changed his mind on the back of the fact he’s still playing good footy, his body is still feeling good, and in my opinion he’s still the best nine in the competition. 

“Once he said that’s what he was thinking, I certainly supported that and so did everyone else at the club.”

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