LEEDS RHINOS’ world’s best winger Ryan Hall claims it is only a matter of time before England beat Australia in a major tournament.
England will jet Down Under on Tuesday to begin putting the final touches to preparations for this month’s Four Nations series in Australia and New Zealand. And Hall – a member of the side which reached the semi-finals of the World Cup 11 months ago – reckons England can go all the way and lift the trophy for the first time.
Assessing England’s chances, Hall said: “Certainly we can win it. When we played against Australia in the first game last year we had a really good shot at them.
“Obviously, we came up a bit short, but it is only a matter of time before we beat them. We are good enough to do it. We have beaten the Kiwis a couple of times so we know we can do that as well. We just need to put it all together in one tournament.”
The Four Nations, which kicks off in a fortnight’s time, is chance for England to finally put the frustration of their World Cup exit behind them.
England were less than 30 seconds away from a place in the final before Shaun Johnson’s try on the last play of the semi-final sent New Zealand to Old Trafford instead.
Hall said: “Last year we thought we deserved a shot at the final – we wanted another shot at the Aussies, but we didn’t get that chance.
“There’s no better place to play them than in their own back garden and it’ll be nice to get over there and experience
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what it’s like playing in Australia and New Zealand.”
Hall is one of three Leeds players in the England squad, alongside full-back Zak Hardaker and centre Kallum Watkins.
The Leeds trio are among 13 survivors from last year’s World Cup. Coach Steve McNamara has also selected nine uncapped players, including Castleford Tigers’ Man of Steel and Super League young player of the year Daryl Clark.
“It’s a really strong squad,” Hall observed.
“He has picked the top performers of the year and we’re looking forward to getting out there.
“There’s a few older heads, but it is quite a young squad, with quite a few uncapped players there and I think that’s wise, building towards the future.”
The shock omission was Rhinos second-row Carl Ablett and team-mates Tom Briscoe and Jamie Jones-Buchanan also missed out after being part of England’s mid-season training squad.
“Being Leeds lads they are probably my closest friends in the England squad and it is disappointing for them not to be there,” Hall said.
“Playing all year with them I might be a bit biased, but I certainly think they might deserve to be there, but it’s not up to me to decide.
“It does show how strong the squad is though, if players like that are being left out. Abbo wasn’t sure if he was going to be in there, but I told him not to be silly – I thought he was going to be picked, but obviously that was not to be.
“One blessing in disguise is that most of the [Leeds] boys will get a full pre-season.
“Obviously we came up a bit short this year, finishing sixth, so we have got some work to do.”
Hall is likely to be one of the first names on McNamara’s team sheet for England’s opening game against Samoa in Brisbane two weeks today.
But with in-form Wigan Warriors duo Josh Charnley and Joe Burgess also in the squad, the Leeds man insisted he isn’t taking his place for granted.
“It [competition for wing spots] has been really tight this year,” Hall said. “There’s been five wingers in the train-on squad, so I didn’t take anything for granted.
“I knew it was going to be hard to get picked. There has been some quality wingers on show this year, so I am certainly relieved I am in there.”
Hall has not played since Leeds’ shock defeat by Catalan Dragons in the first round of the play-offs three weeks ago.
“You have to get over things like that,” he said. “If you dwell on it too much you go crazy.”
“It is nice to have had a break and get our bodies right for the Four Nations.”
England’s Four Nations fixtures:
Saturday, October 25 v Samoa at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia (7am BST).
Sunday, November 2 v Australia at AAMI Park, Melbourne, Australia (5am)
Saturday, November 8 v New Zealand at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand (7am)
Saturday, November 15 Four Nations Final at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand (7.45am).
All of England’s matches will be shown live on BBC One.