Friday night’s Super League play-off semi-final pits two retiring legends to face off with the loser to retire on the spot and the victor to get one last crack at Old Trafford and another Grand Final, as Catalans Dragons host St Helens.
The two retiring legends of the sport are of course Catalans’ Sam Tomkins and St Helens’ James Roby, two men who have been at the pinnacle of the sport for over 30 combined years.
During their illustrious careers they have racked up a total of nine Grand Final victories, twelve Dream Team appearances and three Man of Steel awards but only one will get the chance to add a further Old Trafford appearance to their tally.
Tomkins spoke about his counterpart Roby ahead of Friday’s game when addressing the media, highlighting the immense respect between two of the all time Super League greats.
Asked how good Roby was, Tomkins responded: “He’s very good, he’s been the most consistent player for well over a decade.
“The amount of times you watch clips of him and say he’ll do this and do that, stopping him doing it’s a different thing. I don’t know how he’s still growing at his age, the way that he’s played in the middle for 18 years.
“He’s a legend of a bloke and I think he’s had a great, great career and I’m sure he’ll be successful staying on at St Helens.”
It’s currently unconfirmed if Roby will stay on at St Helens in a non-playing role, with current Saints boss Paul Wellens telling Channel 4 at the weekend that the club would ‘keep an eye on things’ and that it was firmly Roby’s decision.
As for Tomkins though he’s confirmed that he will remain in France with the Dragons in an ambassadorial role, affirming his love for his new home from home.
“I didn’t expect the club to be such a big part of my life. I thought I was coming for two or three years and going back to England. I’ve been here for five years, I’ve got two children born in France and this is home for us, so it’s certainly not what I expected,” he stated.
“I’ll be staying on with the Dragons in an ambassador role and just sort of helping out where I was needed. Whether that be with the sponsors, helping out people in a few different areas of the club with a view to working out if there’s a role in Rugby League for me.
“I’ll continue doing some of the stuff I do now with broadcasting but it’s the owner was asking me if I’d still stay a part of the Dragons when I retired and I love the club so it was an easy yes. There’s no specific role yet but it’s just an ambassador for me.”
Tomkins has made multiple appearances on the Channel 4 broadcasts, including last week when he watched St Helens beat Warrington Wolves to book their clash with Tomkins’ Catalans.
The teams will face off on Friday night vying for a spot at Old Trafford and one last shot at a Grand Final for both Tomkins and Roby.