The St Helens captain won the Harry Sunderland Trophy for man of the match as well. “Anything like that in the last seconds of the game it’s manic anyway, but to do it in a Grand Final and a Saints-Wigan Grand Final is unbelievable,” Roby said.
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 28/11/20 2:38pm
James Roby felt privileged to be part of what will go down as one of the most dramatic finishes in rugby league history as St Helens snatched an 8-4 win over Wigan Warriors in Friday’s Super League Grand Final.
The Saints captain went through the full range of emotions as Tommy Makinson’s last-gasp drop goal attempt hit the posts, only for the ball to bounce in-goal for Jack Welsby to chase down and finish followed by an agonising wait before the video referee confirmed the try.
Roby admitted to being disappointed at being unable to share the moment with the club’s supporters due to the match at the KCOM Stadium being played behind closed doors, but was delighted to be involved, nonetheless.
“Anything like that in the last seconds of the game it’s manic anyway, but to do it in a Grand Final and a Saints-Wigan Grand Final is unbelievable,” Roby said. “Obviously it will get talked about for a long time and go down in history.
“Just to experience it – I’m gutted the fans can’t be there because it would have gone off big style in the stadium. But we got to live it and experience it, and it will probably never happen again.
“The last second of the game, for someone to score a try to win a Grand Final in that manner is unbelievable. It’s definitely one I’ll cherish for years to come.”
As well as being the man who skippered St Helens to back-to-back titles for the first time in 20 years, Roby had the added honour of being named winner of this year’s Harry Sunderland Trophy for man of the match.
In what was at times a gripping defensive struggle between the two great rivals, the hooker came to the fore by making 56 tackles with a 100 per cent success rate – second only on the Saints team to James Bentley, who made 69 – as well as making two tackle busts and carrying for 54 metres.
It came in a year which saw Roby pass the 500 career appearances mark too, and St Helens’ first-year head coach Kristian Woolf was full of praise for his captain’s attitude throughout what has been a challenging 2020 for all.
“He’s the type of player you want to be involved with and I’m really proud to get the opportunity to work with him,” Woolf said.
“He’s a terrific bloke, there is no nonsense whatsoever, the way he speaks he commands and the reason he commands is because he backs it up each week on the field.
“He played 80 minutes for us the last couple of weeks, was one of our best players and probably could have done that all year if I would have allowed him – and I’ve got no doubt he’s got a few years left in him.”
For his part, the 35-year-old played down his role in St Helens’ seventh Grand Final triumph and eighth championship of the Super League era overall, instead praising his team-mates for their attitude and hard work done throughout the year as key, particularly when the season was suspended for nearly four months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nevertheless, he was honoured to join an elite group of players to have won the Harry Sunderland Trophy twice, having earned it in 2014 when Saints also defeated Wigan in Super League’s showpiece game.
“I was made up with it,” Roby said. “Obviously it’s a great trophy to receive and have your name on.
“It was one of those games where there were probably no really big moments which turned it apart from the try at the end.
“It was a bit of a see-saw game, set for set, and at the end of the day I got on with my job, made my tackles and I don’t think I did anything too special, but I’ll take it.”