LEEDS RHINOS’ Ryan Hall has been labelled the world’s best winger over the last 40 years and, St Helens coach Nathan Brown argues, his club would never have reached Wembley without him let alone lift the Challenge Cup.
Fresh from Saturday’s two-try Lance Todd Trophy winning performance against Castleford Tigers, Hall will look to increase his prolific haul – 178 in 219 games for Leeds – when they host Super League leaders St Helens tonight.
The Headingley club hope to add the League Leaders’ Shield to the cup and will close to within two points of their opponents if they prosper this evening.
Ex-Huddersfield Giants chief Brown realises Hall is Leeds’ key asset – and one of the sport’s most potent weapons ever.
The 41-year-old Australian played in three Grand Finals Down Under before turning to coaching. He said Hall’s display in the semi-final over Warrington Wolves, let alone his remarkable brace versus Castleford when raw power saw him score from unlikely positions, stands him out.
“I’ve been following this game for a long, long time and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better winger,” said Brown, encompassing the likes of Martin Offiah and Jason Robinson plus various Kangaroo legends such as Eric Grothe, Wendall Sailor and Lote Tuqiri.
“He’s big and when you see wingers of that size, they don’t have his game sense or canniness.
“I don’t think Leeds win the Challenge Cup if Ryan Hall had been injured for five or six weeks.
“Leeds had all the field position in the semi and all the ball and that try he scored against Joel Monaghan… well, that’s a New South Wales and Australia winger we’re talking about.
“You don’t make the Australian outside backs unless you’re good and how he scored that try, it was unbelievable. If he hadn’t scored it would’ve been 2-0 at half-time after all that ball. He does things that have big swings on the game.
“In the cup final Leeds dominated but the two tries he scored, who else was going to score them?
“It was 16-10 with 10 minutes to go and Leeds dominated the match. He’s done it time and time again and that’s always a good guide.
“Hopefully, he’s been on the drink for a few days and is a bit shy Friday.”