WEMBLEY HAS not been a happy hunting ground for Leeds Rhinos winger Ryan Hall.
Tomorrow’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup final clash with Castleford Tigers will be his sixth game at the national stadium and he has yet to be on the winning side.
After three Cup final defeats with Leeds and two in an England shirt, Hall, right, could be forgiven for thinking he is cursed by a Wembley jinx, but he insisted Rhinos’ past record has played no part in their build-up to tomorrow’s big game.
“We are really not concentrating on that, or thinking about it,” he claimed.
“We are thinking about starting afresh against a good team in Castleford.”
Others, for example captain Kevin Sinfield, right, are in the same situation, but Hall reckons there is nothing about Wembley that puts Leeds’ players off their game.
“We are comfortable playing on the big stage,” he stressed.
“We have performed in Grand Finals and big games like that.
“It is just that the teams we’ve faced have played better on the day.”
Hall crossed twice in the 2011 Cup final loss to Wigan and also bagged a Wembley brace when England lost to Australia in the same year’s Four Nations.
He has five touchdowns to his credit in the current Challenge Cup campaign having scored a double in the fourth round win at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and the semi-final success against Warrington Wolves, as well as one at home to Leigh Centurions in round six of the competition.
“That sort of thing’s nice,” he said of his own try-scoring exploits.
“It is always nice to score on the biggest stage.
“But the big prize is on offer and that’s what we want this year.”
Hall expects Tigers to present formidable opposition tomorrow, despite their underdogs status.
“They are really well-coached and it looks like they had a really good pre-season and carried that through into the season,” he observed.
“Everything is going to plan for them this year.
“We have never expected them to fall away, they showed signs at the start of the year that it wasn’t a fluke they were winning games.
“They put some really good plays on and they defend really well as a team. It’s no shock that they have got to the final and they are where they are in the league.”
Hall played his amateur rugby at Oulton Raiders and is from the Rothwell area, but said having an all-West Yorkshire final won’t make tomorrow any more special than his previous Challenge Cup deciders, against Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors.
“They are always special, whoever you play against,” he said.
“It is good for Castleford to be there though and it’ll be good for Yorkshire.”