ENGLAND WINGER Ryan Hall is confident Leeds Rhinos fans will take to the new South Stand when it fully opens in two seasons’ time.
The existing structure, opened in 1931, will be demolished after tomorrow’s Headingley showdown with St Helens.
A new two-tier structure – including seats and a standing terrace – is due to be fully opened in 2019. Supporters are preparing for an emotional night and Hall, who has scored some memorable tries in front of the South Stand, admits it will be missed, but he reckons the redevelopment will make the disruption worthwhile.
The building work is part of a major Headingley redevelopment which also includes replacing the main North Stand, shared with Yorkshire County Cricket club.
A temporary stand is due to be installed along the north touchline, but the stadium’s capacity will be temporarily reduced to around 13,000
“It is going to be weird for the remaining home games, but when the new stand’s built I am sure all the fans will embrace it,” said Hall, who plays his 300th game for Leeds on Friday.
Rhinos are aiming to make tomorrow’s game a gala occasion, but Hall insisted the players are more focused on getting back to winning ways.
They will drop out of the top-two in the Betfred Super-8s if they lose tomorrow and Hull beat Huddersfield Giants. The 38-6 loss at Wakefield Trinity a week ago was one of Rhinos’ poorest performances of the season and Hall said: “We didn’t play very well, but we did against Wigan the week before.
“We need to produce a performance like that, rather than last week’s.
“It is a big game. A lot of people are saying we don’t need to do a lot more to stay in the top-four, but we are not really bothered about that.
“We want to finish second. Obviously top has gone now, but we want to get a home semi-final.”
Tomorrow could be the last throw of the dice for Saints.
After a disappointing year, recent good form lifted them into the top-four, but they slipped back to fifth after an 8-6 home defeat by Hull six days ago.
They need to win to keep alive their hopes of a semi-final place and will travel to Headingley determined to spoil the party, but Hall stressed: “We have to concentrate on ourselves.
“We were poor against Wakefield, but I don’t think we will be like that this week.”
Meanwhile, Hall’s attention will turn to his coaching debut after tomorrow’s game. He will be in charge of a Yorkshire legends team who are to take on Lancashire at Headingley on Wednesday, August 30 (7pm).
The game is in aid of Hall’s and Martin Gleeson’s testimonials and a donation will also be made to the Rugby League Cares charity.
Former Rhinos stars Jamie Peacock, Mark Calderwood, Chev Walker, Richard Mathers and Kylie Leuluai are due to turn out for Yorkshire with Adrian Morley, Iestyn Harris and Barrie McDermott among the names on the red rose’s teamsheet.