HIS PLANE ticket is booked, but Leeds Rhinos winger Ryan Hall admits he faces a “nervy” wait until England’s side is named for next week’s Test against New Zealand in the United States.
Hall, 30, has been an England regular since 2009, scoring 34 tries in 37 Test appearances, but with a host of quality wingers lighting up Betfred Super League, he admitted to being nervous before Wayne Bennett named his 19-strong travelling group.
Fellow wingers Jermaine McGillvary, of Huddersfield Giants and St Helens’ uncapped Tommy Makinson are also included and one of those three is likely to be among the players who miss out on the matchday 17.
Hall said: “I’m very proud, as I am every time I get picked for England.
“It’s a great honour to pull on the jersey any time and it is great to be in the 19-man squad.
“There are three wingers in the squad so I don’t know if I am playing yet.
“I am still a bit nervy at the moment, but really pleased.
“There’s a lot of good English wingers which is why I was a bit nervous before the squad came out, but I thought I’d been playing pretty well.
“The team’s not been doing the best at the moment, but I thought my personal performances have been pretty good, so I am pleased with my selection.”
The Test will be played on Saturday, June 23 at American gridiron club Denver Broncos’ Sports Authority Field, Mile High.
Hall insisted concerns, mainly raised by NRL clubs who supply six of the England squad, about playing at altitude have been “blown out of proportion” and added: “I can’t wait, I think it’s going to be a great occasion.
“The Americans tend to love contact sports so hopefully we can put on a good show. We are playing the Kiwis, who are a massive, physical side, so I think there’ll be a bit of contact in there for them.”
Hall is the only Rhinos player in the squad.
Forward Stevie Ward, a member of England’s elite performance group, did not make the cut and centre Kallum Watkins is on the long-term injury list after undergoing a knee reconstruction.
“Stevie has been injured and he’s not had a real crack,” Hall said.
“I think if he had played in the majority of games up to now he might have been selected, but it’s not to be. I think if he bides his time he will get a chance to shine at some point in his career.”
Hall’s England selection means he will miss injury-hit Rhinos’ crucial home game against Catalans Dragons in eight days’ time.
“We are doing it tough at the moment and I think this has made it a little bit tougher,” Hall conceded.
“We didn’t play too great over there against Catalans and we’re certainly going to have to play better for the return fixture.
“I’m sadly not going to be there for it, but I wasn’t there when we went to Catalans last year and the boys played great, it was a great performance.
“I watched it on TV in a pub in Bondi Beach.
“It was great because we [England’s Leeds players] were all there, celebrating.
“Hopefully we can do the same again.”
There are no Castleford Tigers or Wakefield Trinity players in England’s 19.
Tigers forward Mike McMeeken was not selected and his fellow elite performance squad member Luke Gale will miss the Test due to injury.
Wakefield winger Tom Johnstone, called into the training squad for the first time this year, has also been omitted from the group travelling to Denver.
England squad is: John Bateman (Wigan Warriors), George Burgess, Sam Burgess, Thomas Burgess (all South Sydney Rabbitohs), Jake Connor (Hull), James Graham (St George-Illawarra Dragons), Ryan Hall (Leeds Rhinos), Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves), Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson (both St Helens), Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants), Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan), Mark Percival (St Helens), Stefan Ratchford (Warrington), James Roby, Luke Thompson (both St Helens), Gareth Widdop (St George), George Williams (Wigan), Elliott Whitehead (Canberra Raiders).