IT WILL be a strange day when James Roby is not running around in Super League anymore.
Some think he will just go on and on, like the formidable England hooker does on matchday so regularly for St Helens, his engine constantly ticking, never seemingly tiring.
The former Man of Steel has signed on again at early leaders Saints until 2021 and will be approaching his 36th birthday by the time that deal expires.
Roby will, though, of course, eventually retire and some other aspiring nines will look to dominate the competition as much as he has over the years.
One of those could be Huddersfield Giants’ Kruise Leeming, the 23-year-old who certainly has all the attributes – speed, tactical awareness, distribution skills – to prosper at the highest level.
He is set to go head-to-head with Roby when the clubs meet tonight and told The Yorkshire Post: “For me, he’s probably one of my favourite players.
“I have a lot of respect for what he’s done in the game and how long he’s done it for as well. It’s outstanding.
“He’s a credit to himself and Saints; a champion hooker at a champion club.
“It’ll be good to go up against him. I always like to test myself against people like James Roby and see where I’m at and where I want to be. I’m looking forward to it.”
While Roby will bid to wear the Great Britain jersey again this autumn – along with captain Sean O’Loughlin he is the only member of the current England side that featured in the famous 2006 Lions win over Australia in Sydney – Leeming has international hopes, too, having represented England Knights in Papua New Guinea last autumn.
Have their paths crossed yet in the international camps?
“Unfortunately not,” said Leeming.
“We didn’t really get chance to train with each other.
“England were doing their own things (ahead of New Zealand series) and we flew to Australia not long after we joined up in camp. We didn’t get chance to meet but we went to watch them play against France in Leigh.
“I enjoyed the whole international experience. It was massive for my own development and good to get amongst all the different players from different clubs and see what they’re all doing. I’m always learning and it was good to see what others are doing in their training that’s different to ours and what’s similar as well.
“It was a really good bunch of lads with the Knights that went to Brisbane and onto PNG and the England setup is something I want to be involved in going forward.
“It gets you out of your comfort zone; you meet new people, play a different style, play in front of more people, on the international stage and I do love it. The tour itself of PNG was a really good experience – how hostile it was, playing in a different climate that was so muggy and the fans on top of you like they are there – but I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Just as he did with Friday’s win at champions Wigan Warriors.
It was bottom-placed Huddersfield’s first win of the season, at the fifth attempt and on a losing run that had stretched back to last August.
“It was good to get it,” conceded try-scoring Leeming, who was voted man-of-the-match for an all-action display that bodes well for this evening against opponents who are the only side to remain with a 100 per cent win record so far.
“It just gives you a little bit of confidence in what you’ve been working on for the last four months over pre-season; that what you’re doing is right and what you’re doing is working.
“On my display, I think it’s been a long time coming a performance like that. I needed it. I’ve been working hard in pre-season myself; putting in all the work and doing the little things right.
“It all came together at Wigan and hopefully I’ll have another big night Thursday v Saints.
“I’m more thinking about the team, though; I’ve forgot about it now and we need to move on.
“Sport’s one of those things where you need to have a short memory whether you play bad or play well as there’s always another game around the corner.”
This one is Leeming’s 99th in the claret and gold of Huddersfield.
He has some way to go to surpass Roby’s 400 plus in Saints colours but he’s undoubtedly taking the right steps.