England winger Ryan Hall is looking to increase his try tally for Leeds Rhinos this year – but insists his first objective is to get picked every week.
Hall, rated as the world’s best in his position, touched down 16 times last season, his poorest return since nine tries in 2008 when he was still establishing himself as a regular in the team.
That year was also the previous time Hall failed to top Rhinos’ try chart, but both centres Kallum Watkins (20) and Joel Moon (17) out-scored him in 2013.
The 26-year-old, who returned to training this week, doesn’t feel he had a poor season, but admitted he wants to do better.
“I am always looking to improve on anything I do, even if I have a storming season,” he said.
“Talking tries it wasn’t the best, but overall I got picked for England again so I couldn’t have been that bad. Hopefully I retain my place in the England squad at the end of the year and do my best for the team, because wing has developed into a key position now. For Leeds this year I just want to do my job and hopefully – with the squad we’ve got now – play every week.
“We have got three international wingers. I don’t know what the squad rotation will be or what the system is this year, but I’m sure there’ll be some disappointment for people who aren’t playing.”
Fellow England winger Tom Briscoe’s arrival from Hull could push Hall on, he reckons. “It will be nice to have that competition,” Hall said of Briscoe. “That’s what the squad needs.
“Having good players vying for the same spot brings the best out of them and it’s good to be in and around that environment.”
Rhinos’ left-side combination of Hall and Moon will be looking to overshadow the other flank, likely to feature Watkins alongside either Briscoe or Ben Jones-Bishop. “It was a good competition last year,” Hall said of the left-right rivalry. “It was nice and tight and I don’t know who won.
“I think left-side might have pipped it. I know Kallum finished top, but we just pipped them.”
Rhinos’ England contingent rejoined training on Monday and Hall admitted they have been pushed hard. “It is a wake-up call, but I expected it to be tough,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed my time off, which I think was deserved after a hard season and being in the World Cup. The international season last year was longer than it has been in the past and I needed a bit of a longer rest, but it’s great to get back in and be with the boys again. The body has suffered a bit of a shock, but that’s to be expected.”
Meanwhile, Hunslet Hawks have hospitality tickets available for their pre-season Lazenby Cup derby with Rhinos on Sunday, January 26 (2pm). The £30 cost includes a two-course carvery meal, match programme and admission to the game.
To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 0113 271 2730, before 5pm on Monday, January 20.