This story initially appeared in this Monday’s edition of League Express.
James Roby insists he never gave up on the dream of an England recall as he prepares to pull on the national shirt for the first time in two years this weekend.
Roby is likely to feature in England’s one and only warm-up game for the World Cup opener against Australia, when Wayne Bennett’s side play the Affiliated States in Perth this weekend.
And the 31-year-old admits that despite so much competition for the England hooking role, he never thought his international career was over.
He said: “I never thought my time was done with England, it’s just that other people warranted selection. I never got bitter about it or anything like that, I just stayed focussed on doing my job for St Helens. Luckily I’ve played my way back in.
“I knew I was in contention. But at the same time, I wasn’t involved midseason and last year so I was on the fence, I guess.
“If I was selected, great, but if not, it wasn’t to be and I’d go away with the family. But to get the nod was great and to get back in is brilliant – it’ll be a great experience, not just rugby-wise, it’s great for us as players to experience it all. This might be my last chance to tour with England, so I’ve got to take every opportunity I can.”
Roby’s impressive end-of-season form with England earned him a recall from Bennett, and he admits that given the way St Helens finished the Super League season, he is keen to see how they will progress even further in coach Justin Holbrook’s first full season in charge in 2018.
“That game at Castleford was one we all thought we won; it’s as close as you can get to making a Grand Final without getting there,” he said.
“It helps to get over it to have something to look forward to though – I was made up to get the call and you don’t get too many chances to play in a World Cup in Australia, so I’m looking forwards.
“We finished the season strongly and clawed our way up the table, didn’t we. I’m hopeful for next year, and it’ll be interesting to see what pre-season is like under him to see if he brings any new ideas. Hopefully we can hit the ground running because we know what Justin is about and what’s expected of us.”