James Roby issues challenge to St Helens team-mates

James Roby - back for St Helens
James Roby - back for St Helens

St Helens captain James Roby is urging his team-mates to seize their opportunity to emulate the great Saints teams of the past.

The 33-year-old England hooker is the only Saints player with experience of a Challenge Cup final but he will lead his team-mates out at Wembley on August 24 after the Super League leaders eventually overcame Halifax 26-2 in Saturday's semi-final.

St Helens dominated the Cup from the advent of Super League in 1996, winning it seven times in 13 years, but they have endured a barren run since their last triumph in 2008.

Roby, who was on the bench for that 28-16 victory over a Hull side captained by Lee Radford, believes the team of 2019 can now carve out some history of their own when they take on Warrington in the final.

"It's brilliant," he said. "It's obviously been a long time since we went to Wembley. It's a great feeling and it's sinking in now.

"It's a great team we've got at the minute, they're hard-working with a very good culture and all that stuff.

"We're going in the right direction and we've just got to cement it now with a bit of silverware.

"I'm so lucky that I've been there early in my career and to go back now and to take these lads with me is fantastic because they deserve it. What a great opportunity for us.

"We'd like to think we're on a journey. Step by step, week by week, we're going everything right so far and we've just got to keep doing that. If we don't get carried away, the hard work will hopefully pay off.

"It's fantastic for everybody involved with the club but there's still a job to do. We're obviously going there for a reason."

Victory at the University of Bolton helped St Helens erase the memory of their surprise defeat by Catalans Dragons on the same stage 12 months earlier but they were pushed all the way by their part-time opponents.

It was 2-2 until Roby forced his way over for first try of the first half five minutes before half-time and he went on to complete a man-of-the-match performance by laying on further tries after the break from Jonny Lomax, Theo Fages and Dom Peyroux.

"It's almost quite relieving to get that monkey off our back," Roby said. "It was a funny old game, you don't quite know what to expect because all the pressure was on us.

"I thought they were fantastic, the way they just hung in there and defended and defended. We scored a few more points in the second half but it was a very tough game.

"It was one of those games where we almost had to hang in there and play a bit more direct. In the second half we did that and they probably tired."

Justin Holbrook will get the chance to lead his club out at Wembley in his second full season in Super League but he was remaining coy on his future as he continues to be linked with the coaching vacancy at Gold Coast Titans.

"I'm just worried about these games at the moment," he said. "They're coming thick and fast so I'll just keep my head down and get on with that."

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