Roby tips Welsby for glory

St Helens captain James Roby is backing his team-mate Jack Welsby to carry on grabbing the headlines.

Versatile Welsby was still a teenager when he scored the last-gasp Grand Final try against Wigan that won Super League last season.

It was a twelfth touchdown and 30th first-team appearance for the club development system product who turned 20 earlier this month.

Welsby stepped spectacularly into the centres in September after Mark Percival picked up a hamstring injury that needed surgery.

The England Academy international had previously played stand-off, wing and fullback, which is where he lined up for the season-opening 29-6 win over Salford on Friday, replacing the rested Lachlan Coote, when he kicked a field-goal.

Competition for places in Kristian Woolf’s side is as intense as ever as Saints target a rare hat-trick of successive titles.

However, long-serving hooker Roby, 35, who is chasing a fifth Grand Final triumph in his 18th season at his only club, believes Welsby will again play a big part this time around.

“Jack is a special talent,” says Roby.

“You could see his extra skill and desire as soon as he started training with the first team.

“It’s a bit up in the air regarding his best position, but he is dangerous wherever he plays.

“He is a fantastic attacking player. He thrives with the extra space at fullback or centre, but is also very effective in the halfbacks.”

Roby who, like Welsby came off the Saints production line, made his debut against Widnes in 2004.

But the England star remains as hungry as ever for success, and is desperate to emulate Leeds, whose trio of titles between 2007-09 all came via Grand Final wins over Saints.

“Three in a row would be huge, and so special,” he said.

“We’re all aware of it and the opportunity we have.

“But we know a lot of teams will want to stop us doing it. All we can do is continue to do all we can to put ourselves in best possible position to succeed.”

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