A few weeks ago, St Helens’ Challenge Cup semi-final against Catalans may well have been a foregone conclusion. However, in recent weeks, Steve McNamara’s Dragons have been resurgent and are in the upper echelons of the form table alongside Saints and hooker James Roby is keen to ensure his team have their feet firmly on the ground in the build up to Sunday’s match.
“Catalans are playing fantastically well at the moment and have really turned the corner,” the England man explained. “Over the last couple of months they have been picking up wins and clawing up the table.” Indeed, the Dragons stormed their way into the top eight of Super League after a poor start and, despite their loss against Wigan last weekend, they ended the ‘regular’ season with just two defeats in their last ten matches – as well as an away victory over Huddersfield to clinch their semi-final spot. “They will be coming to the game confident off the back of that and that is what you want. You want a big game in a cup semi-final and it will bring out the best in us,” the Saints legend noted.
One of their most experienced faces is a familiar foe to Roby and the 2007 Man of Steel is very much looking forward to facing off against Catalans’ Michael McIlorum, formerly of Saints’ bitter rivals Wigan. “He is a tough uncompromising player,” Roby admitted. “He is a great player, always an aggressive type who likes to lead his team from the front in terms of going out and trying to whack people.” A two time Challenge Cup winner, McIlorum will have designs on winning his third and Catalans’ first this month, something Roby is aware of. “He is going to be doing all he can to stop us going to Wembley, but I am excited by the challenge. I like duels and I like playing against the big players,” the 32-year-old expressed.