THEY HAVE confounded the pundits, but winger Ryan Hall insists he is not shocked by Leeds Rhinos’ success this year.
A win over Wigan Warriors in Saturday’s First Utility Super League Grand Final would see Rhinos complete the treble of all available trophies, after already lifting the Challenge Cup and league leaders’ shield.
After finishing sixth in the table last year and making just one senior signing, Leeds were not among the pre-season favourites in Super League’s title race, but Hall stressed: “We aren’t really bothered about what other people think.
“We have that inner belief and I am not surprised (by what Rhinos have achieved this year) at all.
“I have been with pretty much this group, with some additions and losses over the years, when we’ve won it in the past.
“I am not surprised we are back in the final again and I am not taken aback by how well we’ve done, no way.”
Chief executive Gary Hetherington was widely criticised last autumn for not making more changes to the squad, but Hall reckons he has been proved right.
“We have got a smart person pulling the strings at the top,” he added.
“He has picked a championship-winning squad six different years and he is good at what he does.
“If he has chosen that squad to go forward with, we as players need to believe in it and that’s what we’ve done.”
Hall also paid tribute to Rhinos boss Brian McDermott, who was named coach of the year at the Man of Steel awards on Monday.
“It starts with those two,” he said. “Back in November they dictated to everyone how they wanted us to play and what they wanted us to do, with the ball and without it.
“Then it’s down to the boys to buy into that. It has worked wonders.”
The game in two days’ time will be Rhinos’ first return to Old Trafford since 2012. Hall said: “It has been a while since we’ve been there. It’s three years since we were last at Old Trafford and that’s the longest gap since I’ve been a Leeds player.
“It feels really good to be going back there again. It is just like the first time, which was 2008 for me.
“It brings back a few memories from that year and it’s just as exciting now.”
Hall scored the last-second try at Huddersfield Giants which won the league leaders’ shield and also touched down to edge Rhinos ahead late in last Friday’s semi-final victory over St Helens.
That took his total of Leeds tries to 201 and was his 22nd in 30 games for Rhinos this year. Despite that tally, Hall was not selected in this year’s Dream Team.
“I am my own biggest critic,” Hall admitted. “There’s been games when I have played well and others when I haven’t.
“There doesn’t seem to be any pattern at the moment, I can play well some weeks and shocking the week after.
“It is hard to read, but I am happy where I am at the moment. I am in a Grand Final, I’ve won the league leaders’ shield and I scored a try to get us back to Old Trafford, so I can’t say I am too disappointed with how this year’s gone.
“I always say the main thing is the team. If I score tries to help the team win I am happy and I’ve done that the last two weeks.”
Wigan have developed a reputation as a team who know how to stop Leeds playing, but Hall pointed out: “It’s two wins all this year.
“They have got to a Grand Final, so that proves they are a good side, just as we have. It is great the teams who finished first and second are in the Grand Final.
“That’s how it is meant to be and hopefully we can do it justice this year.”