ST Helens coach Nathan Brown, right, reckons Ryan Hall, far right, is the greatest winger he’s seen in the world over almost 40 years – and Leeds Rhinos would never have ended their long Challenge Cup quest without him.
Saints are the latest team tasked with finding a solution in how to deal with the robust and prolific England international when the Super League leaders arrive at Headingley tonight. Fresh from his two-try Lance Todd Trophy winning performance in Leeds’ Wembley success over Castleford Tigers, Hall’s stock has never been higher.
Australian Brown, 41, played in three Grand Finals Down Under before turning to management and watched the likes of Kangaroos legend Eric Grothe, played versus Wendall Sailor and coached against Lote Tuqiri. He said Hall’s display in the semi-final victory over Warrington Wolves, let alone his remarkable brace versus Castleford when his raw power saw him score from unlikely position, stands him out.
“I’ve been following this game for a long, long time and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better winger,” said Brown, including Great Britain’s Martian Offiah, right.
“He’s big and when you see wingers of that size, they don’t have his game sense or canniness.
“I don’t think Leeds win the Challenge Cup if Ryan Hall had been injured for five or six weeks.
“Leeds had all the field position in the semi and all the ball and that try he scored against Joel Monaghan… well, that’s a New South Wales and Australia winger we’re talking about.
“You don’t make the Australian outside backs unless you’re good and how he scored that try, it was unbelievable.
“If he hadn’t scored it would’ve been 2-0 at half-time after all that possession. He does things that have big swings on the game.
“In the cup final Leeds dominated but the two tries he scored, who else was going to score them?
“It was 16-10 with 10 minutes to go and Leeds dominated the match; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better winger.
“He’s done it time and time again and that’s always a good guide.”
Brown knows his side’s lead at the top will be cut to just one point if they lose tonight and Wigan Warriors beat Widnes Vikings.
Leeds will also move to within just two points of them with two regular rounds remaining.
Of Hall, who has scored 178 tries in 219 games for Leeds, he added: “He can have a night off.
“Hopefully he’s been on the drink for a few days and is a bit shy.
“He’s an outstanding player.”