SAINTS hooker James Roby is relishing the returning to the England fold against the Exiles when the two sides meet in the 2013 International Origin Match at The Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington on Friday (8.00pm).
Roby has missed a large portion of the Super League season after injuring an ankle in March but he is delighted to have been named in the England squad by coach Steve McNamara and is hoping to force his way into contention for a place in Friday’s starting 17.
“I’m really glad to be back with the England group,” said Roby. “It’s a familiar environment for all the players now and the work that has gone on over the past few years in terms of creating an atmosphere and reinforcing our two-team mentality is really paying off.
“When you’re here you know that it’s a full week dedicated to rugby. You’re prepared to be taken a little bit out of your comfort zone as the training is intense all day every day. You’re surrounded by the best players in the country and that lifts the intensity levels for everyone.
“This year is one of the strangest years I can remember within the national setup. There a lot of players who are knocking on the door in lots of positions and I’m very grateful that Steve has shown faith in keeping me in the squad.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to repay that confidence in me and perform well on Friday to warrant the selection.”
Having been left out of Steve McNamara’s squad for the Autumn International Series in 2012 – due to injury – Roby could find himself going into the end-of-season World Cup fresher than ever before and he feels that could be an advantage for him.
“I’ve come through the past few club games after injury and hopefully I’ll be able to get back into form now and help St Helens end the year strongly and push for a place in the World Cup squad,” he said.
“It’s always disappointing to miss out on games through injury and the only silver lining for me is that hopefully I’ll be that bit fresher come the end of the season.
“Especially playing at hooker you are involved in a lot of elements in the game and sometimes when it gets to close-season you can be feeling tired and hopefully I’ll avoid that come the World Cup if selected.
“The most important thing for now though is to focus on the Exiles. This game is very high in intensity and is very important to the whole group.
“In the past few years the exiles have taken the trophy home. We need to win in order to boost that confidence in the camp after the 2012 Autumn Series win and if we can get the result right and go into the World Cup in confident spirits it will help set us in good stead.”
Tickets for the 2013 International Origin Game, England v Exiles at The Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington, cost from just £20 (£15 students and OAPs, £10 concessions) and are now on sale from the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 856 1113 or online at www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk