FOR the first time in his life legendary England winger Ryan Hall is cheering for the Australians.
It is certainly a strange position for the former Leeds Rhinos star, back in Yorkshire after arriving with new club Sydney Roosters yesterday ahead of Sunday’s World Club Challenge contest against Wigan Warriors.
Hall, of course, will not be playing in the title decider between the NRL and Super League champions.
He is still recovering from the anterior cruciate ligament injury that called an abrupt halt to his prolific Leeds career in August.
Hall, who scored 231 tries in 328 games with Rhinos and won six Grand Finals before joining Roosters on a two-year deal, is making good progress and should be ready to start his NRL career soon.
For now, though, the proud Englishman will just be a fan watching on from the stands as his new Roosters team-mates go head-to-head with so many familiar faces for him such as England captain Sean O’Loughlin, his former Leeds team-mate Zak Hardaker and Wigan stand-off George Williams.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing our team actually put 80 minutes together,” Hall told The Yorkshire Post, with the Sydney side not due to start their NRL campaign until next month.
“We’ve trained all pre-season pretty much unopposed and we obviously train within ourselves within training, but it’ll be great to see what we look like against some opposition.
“Wigan have had two hit-outs and they‘ve got to see what they look like, winning one and losing one. But it’ll be really interesting to see how we turn out on the field and how all the pre-season develops into a game.
“It’s the first time, quite honestly, I’ve ever wanted the Australian side to win.”
Hall, 31, is making good progress with what has been the first serious injury of his trophy-laden career.
“It’s five months now and, as the textbook would say, I think I’m on track,” said the player, who is also his country’s record scorer with 36 tries in 38 Tests.
“Obviously it’s a very long injury to come back from, but I think I am on track with it.
“The physios are very happy with my progress. I’m as eager as ever to get back as soon as possible, but they are reassuring me not to rush as the worst thing possible would be for me to come back too early and do it again.
“Obviously we don’t want that so it’s against every natural urge in my body, but I do have to take the time and take things slowly.
“I’m out on the field with the team and I’m moving around quite well.
“It’s just reaction-type stuff where you have to bounce around in different directions quite quickly that I’m not quite up to yet. But as movement goes I’ve got a decent straight line in me.”
What is it like now training with the iconic Cooper Cronk rather than having to deal with the former Australia scrum-half’s famous kicking game, as Hall so often did in England colours.
“It is really good,” he said about the ex-Queensland State of Origin star who famously guided Roosters to last year’s Grand Final glory despite playing against his former Melbourne Storm team-mates with a broken shoulder.
“Obviously his playing record speaks for itself, but it’s also really good getting on the training field with him as he is very experienced. You can totally tell why he’s been so successful.
“I’ve had a bit of a laugh with him about a couple of games we’ve had especially the 2014 England game down in Melbourne where I bombed it in the end and they gave no try.”
Hall beat Cronk’s Melbournre side in the 2008 World Club Challenge and also won it again four years later when he scored two tries and earned the man-of-the-match award in Rhinos’ famous victory over Manly Sea Eagles.
He says he and his family have settled into things well in Sydney and added: “It is really good.
“Obviously it’s a different lifestyle over there with the weather, which is a massive part of how the Australians live. It’s been great to experience one of the hottest summers they’ve had in a while and obviously the kids and my wife have had a great time in the sun.
“I couldn’t bring them back for this trip as they’ve got school.
“But I’ve seen quite a few friends already.
“I rented a car from Manchester Airport and did the rounds around Leeds.
“Now I’m just having my tea cooked for me by the in-laws so some things never do change.”
Castleford Tigers have signed former Leeds Rhinos and Hull KR second-row Chris Clarkson, 28, on a one-year deal.