St Helens coach Kristian Woolf admits that he wasn’t aware that his captain and hooker James Roby was set to score his 100th Super League try against Wakefield Trinity on Thursday night.
Roby, 34, who made his Super League debut with St Helens in 2004 and is now in his seventeenth season with the club, came into the game on 98 tries and touched down twice in the first half to reach his century.
The only hooker to have scored more Super League tries is Keiron Cunningham, his predecessor in the number 9 shirt at St Helens, who touched down 138 times between 1996 and 2010.
“I didn’t realise it was his 100th try, which is obviously a great achievement for him and something he should be really proud of,” said Woolf, who since arriving at the Totally Wicked Stadium has quickly become a great admirer of his skipper.
“I think the same as everyone else. He is an exceptional player and person who leads from the front by his example.
“He doesn’t feel the need to talk all the time, but when he does everyone listens, and that’s because he backs up his words with actions.
“He can play 80 minutes at a pinch, but I think it’s best not to try to play him for 80 each week, because that can become fatiguing. But he’s got no dramas doing it, and he can do it and come up with the big plays as well and that’s the sign of a really good player.”
With Roby’s fellow hooker and former Australian captain Cameron Smith looking likely to retire this season at the age of 37, Woolf sees some similarities in the two players, although so far Smith has only scored 46 NRL tries.
“I think they are very similar, if you look at their longevity, even though they are both getting to the end of their careers, although James has got a bit to go yet.
“But they are both very dominant in their positions, because they are so smart and so consistent.
“Having said that, it’s hard for me to compare players, because I haven’t coached or dealt directly with Cameron Smith, but I certainly have a very high opinion of Robes.”
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