Leeds Rhinos: Hall eyes prize of a Test series triumph

England's Ryan Hall.
England's Ryan Hall.
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LEEDS RHINOS’ England winger Ryan Hall isn’t prepared to give up on another prize to cap an historic year.

Hall has already got his hands on the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup, First Utility Super League leaders’ shield and the Grand Final trophy – all in the past three months – and will be a Baskerville Shield winner if England can beat New Zealand in four days’ time.

The hosts had an opportunity to seal a rare series win last Saturday, but – after a 26-12 victory in the opening Test at Hull – they slumped to a 9-2 defeat in London’s Olympic Stadium.

The Kiwis were on top for most of a poor game, but Hall is adamant England can turn the tables this weekend and seal their first series triumph over southern hemisphere opposition since 2007.

“Of course we can bounce back,” said the Leeds man.

“We showed in the first game we had enough to get over the line.

“But in a three-game series we are not going to have it all our own way all the time - especially against the number one team in the world.

“We have got some fixing up to do and some patching up to do and we’ll be putting our best foot forward on Saturday at Wigan.”

England’s backs have yet to score a try in the series and had few attacking opportunities so far, but Hall denied being frustrated at a lack of ball in good field position.

“We are playing the Kiwis,” he stressed. “They are renowned for being upfront and powerful. That’s how the Kiwis play and we’ve had to play that way also.”

Whatever happens, the third Test will be Hall and his teammates’ final game of a competitive season which began in February.

“I have got one more game in me,” he said. “It has been a long year, but we are professional sports people. There’s quite a lot on the line and if you’re not able to get up for a game like that, you are in the wrong profession.

“It’s all on this game, it is one-all against the number one team in the world.

“At all costs, we will be ready for this week and I think everyone will be fine.

“It is just like playing in a Grand Final or the Challenge Cup final, which we seem to have a pretty good recent record in.

“Hopefully the Leeds boys can draw on that and, as a team, we can get the job done.”

The key for England will be merging their attacking sharpness from the first Test with the defensive resolve they showed three days ago.

They have kept the Kiwis to just three tries in the series so far and Hall feels they are not far away from a complete performance.

“It’s tough as an international side, when you don’t get much time together on the field,” he admitted. “We’ve been good in different areas in the two games so far and it’s time to put it all together for the third Test.”

Meanwhile, after 44,393 fans turned up for rugby league’s first visit to the Olympic Stadium, the Rugby Football League (RFL) is now understood to be considering returning there for next year’s Four Nations.

Other venues in the frame include Anfield, home of Liverpool FC, but Hall would welcome another chance to play in Stratford.

He said: “It’s a great stadium.

“West Ham have done really well to get it as their home ground for the football.

“It needs to get used as often as possible and it was good to see so many people inside it on Saturday.”

There have been complaints the two Tests so far have lacked atmosphere, but Hall insisted it hasn’t felt that way to the players.

“It was good,” he said of the atmosphere last weekend. “It felt like a Test match.

“It felt like all the crowd got behind us when something happened or things went against us.

“It didn’t feel quiet, it felt good.”

Tickets for Saturday’s decider at DW Stadium have already sold out.

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