'I don't know how I'll feel' - Leeds Rhinos legend Ryan Hall prepares to face former club for first time as a Hull KR player
Leeds Rhinos legend Ryan Hall has paid tribute to the former teammate he will go head to head with this week - and his ex-understudy who is now a rival for a place in England’s World Cup squad.
Hall won six Super League Grand finals, two league leaders’ shields and the Challenge Cup twice during 12 seasons in Rhinos’ first team.
The fifth-highest try scorer in the club’s history, he left at the end of 2018 to join Australian NRL side Sydney Roosters and is now in his first season with Hull KR, who Rhinos visit on Friday.
Hall will be in direct opposition with Tom Briscoe and Leeds’ team is also set to include his long-term replacement at Rhinos, Ash Handley, who is available after injury.
“I do like coming up against the best, that has always been my philosophy,” Hall, 33, said.
“Interestingly, wingers rarely tackle wingers, but obviously I am directly up against Tom this week who I spent quite a bit of my career with, first of all through England and later Leeds.
“He is a good man and I am looking forward to seeing him.”
Hall and Handley are products of the same community club, Oulton Raiders and Hall added: “It brings a smile to my face, how Ash is playing.
“He had to wait his turn, all the years I was there and Tom as well, but he has certainly taken his chance.
“He has played really well - I am not for a second going to take any credit for that, because I think Ash plays slightly differently to me.
“He has found his own way, he has waited his turn and he has taken it so all the best to him
“It is great to see him around the England set-up.
“I think he has got an international career ahead of him.”
Friday will be the first time Hall has played against his home city club.
He reflected: “It is quite a few years since I was there, but I spent most of my career there.
“It is another game, against the club I played for for many years.
“Plenty of players have gone through this scenario before, they might have a different take on it, but until the game kicks off and I have to make a tackle or I run into someone, I am not sure how I feel.”
Rhinos were in a slump during Hall’s final season there and he recalled: “We had some scratchy times towards the back end of my career at Leeds; 2016 wasn’t the best, we bounced back in 2017 and their rebuild phase started back then.
“They are now starting to bear the fruits of that rebuild.
“They won the Challenge Cup last year, so they have definitely got some ability and some quality players.
“They are going through a bit of an injury crisis at the moment, but I think they have done the rebuild now - they just need to get players back on the park.”
Hall was not included in the latest England squad, but confirmed he “would absolutely love” to play for the national side in the World Cup.
He stressed: “I want to get chosen on merit, not because I’ve been there in the past.
“I want to be chosen because I’m one of the two best English wingers - if I am not that, I don’t deserve to get picked.
“I don’t think I have played well yet, I am waiting to play well and it would be nice if I could do it this week.”
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