Injury-hit winger thought he would be overlooked

Ryan Hall

Ryan Hall

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LEEDS RHINOS winger Ryan Hall feared being given the cold shoulder by new England boss Wayne Bennett after his injury-hit campaign.

LEEDS RHINOS winger Ryan Hall feared being given the cold shoulder by new England boss Wayne Bennett after his injury-hit campaign.

He lines up against Widnes Vikings on Sunday in only his second game back after three months out with an ankle problem.

Hall had yet to even make his comeback against Wakefield Trinity when he was invited along to Bennett’s 31-man get-together in Leeds.

Granted, most people would consider the 28-year-old – nicknamed “World’s Best Winger” – a certainty given his sustained prowess for both club and country.

Yet Hall, who has won five Grand Finals with Rhinos and scored 26 tries in 27 Tests, insists he was genuinely worried he’d be overlooked due to his lack of matches this campaign.

“Yes, I was, as it’s all picked on form,” he said.

“There’s some great wingers that have been playing this year and even last year like Jerry (Jermaine McGillvary) and Wigan’s Dom Manfredi.

“He (Manfredi) has gone really well. I said to him on the field after the Grand Final last year that if he plays like that again this season he’ll be straight into that England thinking and he is.

“So, I was happy to be included in that squad having not featured too much. I met him (Bennett) and am glad that he recognized that I’ve been a bit of an England regular over the years.”

Hall has made just eight appearances this year so was understandably elated to return in the 32-6 win at Wakefield 15 days ago.

“It was great to get out into the field, to be able to do my job and feature in a win as well which have not come thick and fast for us this year,” he said.

“It was really pleasing. I might not have got as involved as what I’d normally do - I was a bit tentative at times - but just to be out there doing a little bit was great.”

Typically, Hall then has to wait more than two weeks for his next match but he said: “Despite me not being out on the field for every round you still get put through your paces in the gym so it was just nice to get a couple of days off.

“Every break is welcomed in the Hall household; me and my wife like to get off and do stuff.

“But it’ll be good to go again against Widnes.”

Leeds still harbour hopes of making up the six points difference between them and the eighth-placed Vikings with four games to go.

It remains highly unlikely they will achieve that but Hall said: “We’ll find out won’t we if it’s too much to ask?

“It’s still a possibility at the moment and we’ll try the best we can.

“Widnes are certainly a good side; they put 56 points on us earlier this year so they know what they’re doing.

“They may not have carried on that red-hot form but are still a good side; you can see that the way they play, they’re very structured and well drilled.”

Stevie Ward.

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