As legendary hooker prepares to become competition’s record appearance maker with 455 games, his former England team-mate Jamie Peacock explains just why he is so good – and how it’d be great for the national side if he had one last shout at the World Cup
St Helens’ James Roby is about to break a major record and it’s no surprise: he’s been the best hooker in the modern era.
If Robes plays versus Hull KR on Sunday, it’ll be his 455th Betfred Super League appearance – taking him one clear of previous record holder Kevin Sinfield. It is a phenomenal feat. I’ve played against Robes numerous times and, of course, with him for England and Great Britain. But the fact he’s a hooker – and someone who weighs 85 or 90 kilos – is the context in which people need to understand how amazing this record truly is.
He’s spent the last 19 seasons in the middle surrounded by giants who weigh a minimum of 105 kilos but could be up to 120 kilos. And he’s just mixed it with the best of them and come out with more games than anyone else in Super League history. I can’t think of a better British number nine in terms of consistency and skill level which is always on the money. He’s an incredibly skilful player, has a great 40/20 and an outstanding ability to read the game.
He’s incredibly tough and durable. He has it all. Robes has retired from international rugby league but he’d be a great addition to the World Cup squad if England could persuade him to do one more tournament this autumn. His experience, calmness and sheer ability would be brilliant for the national side. When you look at the current England team, the one thing they do lack is experience and Robes has got that in bucket loads.
He’s not fazed by anything. No one knows if this is his last year of playing or not. He is 36. There’s speculation this could be his last season. But what a way to bow out – playing in a home World Cup? Robes takes Kev’s record but I think it will be broken again quite consistently in future years. Why? Because of how good sports science now is and the ability to get the best out of players when they go past their mid-30s. But there’s no doubting how class Robes is.