St Helens captain James Roby will miss the start of the season, but he is hoping that he might be fit to play in the World Club Challenge on Saturday 22 February against the NRL Premiers Sydney Roosters.
Roby missed the Great Britain tour last autumn, instead undergoing surgery to cure a longstanding problem.
“I had groin surgery after I’d had a bit of a groin issue that rumbled on for a year or two,” he explained.
“It was getting progressively worse last season. I had a bit of surgery mid-season, but it didn’t really help and we knew something would have to be done at the end of the year. So we had a more detailed assessment and I had surgery at the Yorkshire Clinic in Bradford. It went well and I’m well on the road to recovery. It’s all good and should be ready to play not too long after the start of the season.
“I’ll definitely miss one or two early rounds, so we’ll just have to see how it comes on. We have a World Club Challenge, and I’m hoping to be back for that game, or even the week before. But the procedure I’ve had is quite rare, so it’s not worth risking it if it isn’t absolutely right.”
Roby’s absence early in the season will result in other players having an opportunity.
“I would imagine it would be between Aaron Smith and James Bentley for the hooking role,” he said, while reflecting on the change of coach at the Totally Wicked Stadium, with Kristian Woolf having taken over from Justin Holbrook.
“There is pressure on Kristian, although the fans will be on his side if we win the World Club Challenge or the Challenge Cup,” said Roby.
“But I love the fact that we haven’t gone out and recruited anyone. I have the utmost confidence in us both as a club and as a team. There have been no personnel changes other than Kristian coming in and Justin going out.
“Each coach has his own ideas that he brings to the team. Kristian approaches the game a little differently to Justin. We were a very dominant team last year, winning the league by 16 points, but he has come in and has identified improvements we can make.
“Kristian communicates very well, in black and white, and I love that about him. I can already see that he is going to be a good guy for us. Obviously there is a transition when a new coach comes in and we have to get used to him, the new training methods and so on, but everyone is now fully prepared for the new season.
“We want to go for all three trophies and we want to hit the ground running from round one.
“Last year in the play-offs against Wigan, we came out all guns firing, got on top from the start and blitzed them.
“We need that killer instinct this season. There are a lot of factors in the early rounds, and consistency is the key in my opinion.”