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Coach Shaun Wane says England door remains open for retired hooker James Roby

St Helens’ James Roby could yet be tempted by Shaun Wane’s World Cup plans (Martin Rickett/PA)
St Helens’ James Roby could yet be tempted by Shaun Wane’s World Cup plans (Martin Rickett/PA)

England coach Shaun Wane has indicated he would welcome back James Roby with open arms if the record-breaking St Helens hooker decided to reverse his international retirement.

The 36-year-old Roby, who made his 455th Super League appearance for St Helens on Sunday, informed Wane last September that he no longer wished to be considered for selection.

But amid increasing speculation that Roby could be tempted to extend his playing career by another season, Wane has clearly not given up hope of tempting him back for the home World Cup later this year.

St Helens v Hull Kingston Rovers – Betfred Super League – Totally Wicked Stadium
James Roby made a record-breaking 455th Super League appearance on Sunday (Martin Rickett/PA)

Asked if he had left the door open for Roby, Wane responded: “Absolutely – no question. I’ve not spoken to him and you can ask him that. He phoned me and told me he wanted to retire and I’ve too much respect for him (to argue).

“He’s an outstanding player and he’s still doing it now. I’ve all the respect for James Roby and if he changes his mind I’m sure he’ll let me know.”

Rising Saints star Jack Welsby is among a batch of new faces named in Wane’s 20-man England squad for next Saturday’s mid-season international against a Combined Nations All Stars side coached by Ellery Hanley.

“Jack is a proper rugby player, a natural player – you can pick him anywhere and he will play in that position and that’s a credit to both St Helens and his amateur club,” Wane added.

Catalans Dragons full-back Sam Tomkins will remain as captain but Saints duo Morgan Knowles and Mark Percival were withdrawn from the squad on Sunday due to injury.

In another blow, star Brisbane Broncos centre Herbie Farnworth suffered a potentially serious bicep injury against Canberra Raiders at the weekend that puts his World Cup participation at risk.

England Head Coach Unveiling – University of Bolton Stadium
Shaun Wane leads England against the Combined Nations All-Stars on Saturday (Anthony Devlin/PA)

No players from the NRL were made available for this fixture, but Wane headed Down Under last month to talk to Farnworth and other eligible England players about his World Cup plans.

Wane reported no immediate update on Farnworth’s condition but insisted he would try to turn the news into a positive.

“Sometimes those injuries are quick and sometimes they’re slow, so we’ll look at it in a couple of months,” Wane said.

St Helens v Hull FC – Betfred Super League – Totally Wicked Stadium
Jack Welsby is expected to make his England debut at the weekend (Martin Rickett/PA)

“It’s a shame because I met Herbie in Brisbane. He’s a big athlete and would definitely play a part in the World Cup.

“But without a shadow of a doubt it is possible. He’ll have had a long break and all of a sudden when the games come thick and fast he’ll be healthy.

“When you look at this country and how many games they’re playing in the lead-up to a World Cup, at least Herbie would be fresh and ready.”

Sam Tomkins file photo
Sam Tomkins will lead England out against the Combined Nations All-Stars (Mike Egerton/PA)

Welsby’s Saints team-mate Joe Batchelor and Warrington star Matty Ashton are among the other players who have received their first international call-ups.

Wigan stars Jai Field and Bevan French are missing from the All-Stars squad, which will be captained by Hull KR’s Shaun Kenny-Dowall.

Despite a spate of withdrawals, Hanley hinted at a further addition to the squad on Friday, and added: “I’m very happy at this moment in time that the players I’ve picked have a great desire to play.”