DEPARTING WINGER Ryan HALL says he is not moving to Australia for a holiday – and insists he has urgent business to complete with Leeds Rhinos before joining Sydney Roosters next year.
Hall will be 31 when he makes his Roosters debut and admitted, having been on long-term contracts throughout his Rhinos career, the move at the end of this season was his only opportunity to test himself in the NRL.
The England star confirmed he has been considering the switch since the start of this year and had interests from “quite a few” NRL clubs, but sees Roosters as the best fit.
“If you look at their squad, they have got a real chance of achieving something this year and the years I’ll be there as well,” said Hall, who denied swapping codes to rugby union was ever an option.
“I am not going there for a holiday. People might say I am because I’m getting on a bit, but I am going to try and achieve something over there.
“The Roosters are looking really good this year. They are in a decent position in the league and they’ve got a good squad so there’s a possibility they might come out on top this year, but I am going to concentrate on Leeds first and then go from there.”
Rhinos are in a perilous situation, facing seven matches in the Qualifiers to ensure they remain in Betfred Super League next year. That was confirmed last weekend when the three teams they could have overtaken – Huddersfield Giants, Catalans Dragons and Wakefield Trinity – all won.
“As soon as you start relying on other teams to do you favours, it’s not a position you want to be in,” Hall said. “You want to be in control of your own destiny and we haven’t been good enough to get that control. It was desperate, we needed Huddersfield and Wakefield both to lose and they both produced good wins. It is something we’ve got to live with.”
Rhinos’ 34-0 win over Widnes Vikings last Friday was their first victory since Kevin Sinfield returned to the club as director of rugby, with James Lowes becoming first team coach, in place of previous boss Brian McDermott. Of the change of management, Hall said: “It should never have come to that, but gradually things slip. You don’t really realise it because it’s only small things, but a couple of years go by with the same things happening week in and week out and it all builds up on you.
“When Kev came back in he found it a bit of a shock to see what state we are in, but he is changing it around. We have got to get ourselves back in to a position so we start next year with Super League status and can then attack that competition.”
Hall confirmed he signed for Roosters after Sinfield was appointed and stressed: “The position Rhinos are in had no bearing on me leaving, at all. We could have been in St Helens’ position – 10 points clear and in a Challenge Cup semi and looking really good and I would still have chosen to leave.”
Now the deal is done, Hall’s aim is to ensure Rhinos are in good shape for 2019 and beyond. He said: “I want to leave them with Super League status. We’ve got the middle-eights to contend with and then there’s still a bit of silverware on offer in the Challenge Cup and it would be good to put in a good performance to get to Wembley.”
Of the prospect of Rhinos’ second relegation battle in three seasons, Hall admitted: “It is a nervous time. It is going to be tough, it was tough last time we were in it [the Qualifiers] - there was a Championship- club promoted and a Super League one relegated, but our destiny is in our own hands and we have to make sure we take full advantage of that.”
There will be nothing at stake for either team when Rhinos visit Salford Red Devils for their final Betfred Super League game on Friday. Leeds will finish ninth whatever happens and Salford can not move from 11th position, but Hall said: “We will be playing Salford in the middle-eights so we’ve got to use it as practice for what we’ll be coming up against.
“It’s chance to get things right. We need to start building again and that game is another chance to do it.”