Roby has grounds to be excited
The excitement is building for England hooker James Roby as he prepares to lead St Helens out against Salford City Reds for tonight’s historic first Stobart Super League match at Langtree Park.
After spending the whole of the 2011 season sharing Widnes’ Stobart Stadium, Saints will finally return home and Roby will once more fill in for injured captain Paul Wellens as they christen their £30million home.
“It’s a great honour for myself,” said Roby, who as a young fan stood on the terraces at the now-demolished Knowsley Road ground to cheer on his heroes.
“I’m made up. I can’t wait to finally see what the atmosphere is going to be like when it’s full.
“We got used to Widnes after a few weeks but it was never home and fans numbers were down.
“It’s great to be back in St Helens now and, the way season ticket sales are going, hopefully the crowds will be fantastic all year.
“Obviously it’s been a long time coming but everything is top notch and we’ve definitely no excuses in terms of facilities. We just need to go out there and do our job as players.
“We can’t get caught up in all the hype. We’ve got to perform on pitch and (coach) Royce (Simmons) has drummed that into us.
“Hopefully we can take bit of confidence from last week’s game and get another two points on the board.”
While St Helens made a winning start to the season at London Broncos, Salford went down to Castleford Tigers in the first match at their new stadium and history is against them making amends tonight.
The City Reds never won at Knowsley Road in Super League and they have lost 27 consecutive away matches against them since they triumphed 18-17 in 1980.
Roby is determined his side will not underestimate their opponents, who are now coached by former St Helens players Phil Veivers and Sean Long.
“They’ve recruited well and they’ve got Matty Smith and Matty Ashurst and Sean Long, who are ex-Saints, so they are going to have a lot of inside knowledge,” he said.
“We’ve had trouble against them in the past, early on in the year especially. We always seem to have close games with them.”
Saints, who have sold more than 10,000 season tickets, are expecting to fill the slightly reduced capacity of 17,200 and have been working around the clock to ensure the pitch is fit.
A dome has been erected over the surface and hot air is being circulated under the covers.