Hall has chance to join list of Olympic heroes

ON A MISSION: Ryan Hall, being tackled by New Zealand's Issac Luke and Tohu Harris during the first Test at the KC Stadium, is aiming to clinch the series in London tomorrow. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA
ON A MISSION: Ryan Hall, being tackled by New Zealand's Issac Luke and Tohu Harris during the first Test at the KC Stadium, is aiming to clinch the series in London tomorrow. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA
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WITH his uncanny knack of scoring on the biggest stages, it is no surprise Ryan Hall is the favourite to cross first for England against New Zealand tomorrow.

Whether it be Grand Finals, Challenge Cup finals or World Club Challenges with Leeds Rhinos, or major internationals with his country, the hulking winger invariably finds himself among the try-scorers.

He grabbed two, of course, against Australia at Wembley in the 2011 Four Nations, and added three more during last year’s tournament in Melbourne and Dunedin and no one has managed as many as his four in World Club Challenges.

Indeed, such is his prolific nature, it was almost a shock that the Yorkshireman actually failed to score against the Kiwis in Sunday’s first Test win at Hull’s KC Stadium.

Nevertheless, the Olympic Stadium tomorrow would be a new place for Hall to show his class – the second Test is the first rugby league game to be held at the venue synonymous with London 2012 – but he insists there is no secret to this pleasing ability.

“I just do my job really,” said the 27 year-old. “It’s all about scoring points for your team and I contribute to that but I don’t really think about where it happens.

“When the game starts it’s just a pitch, so you just do what you do in training. It’s one of those things that I will look back on at the end of my career, savouring the moments of scoring in big games.”

The Olympic Stadium, with its 49,500 capacity, generated fine atmosphere for the Rugby World Cup recently when games such as Ireland v Italy and France against Romania took place there but now it is league’s turn to make use of the grandiose facility.

Hall, who has scored 24 tries in 26 Tests, said: “I’ll have to take your word for that as I don’t really watch that (union).

“I certainly watched the Olympics. I got really behind it even in the events where I had no idea what was happening, such as gymnastics.

“It was a great spectacle. Playing in big stadiums like this is what it’s all about as a professional sportsman. I think it is going to be great.

“Just to be at another event on that big stage is really pleasing for us. A lot of the fans who have bought tickets for the Olympic Stadium are from London where union is normally taken first so that’s really positive from our point of view even before we get down there.

“I do like the rugby league initiative of moving around the venue – just as long as we can match up to that the way we play and put the game in a good light.”

Having defeated New Zealand 26-12 last week, England know they are just 80 minutes away from sealing a first series win since Great Britain defeated the Kiwis in 2007.

It would be the first major success of Hall’s international career since he broke in to the England ranks in 2009.

He did not get too many opportunities last week mainly due to the fact the hosts forced so many holes down the middle of the Four Nations champions.

“Every time we scored it was an easy kick for Gareth Widdop in and around the posts wasn’t it?” smiled Hall, who helped Leeds win the treble this season.

“It shows the team is playing well and powerfully through the middle. We’ve been blessed with England; we’ve always had a good pack and this year is just the same as any other.

“We’ve got a good pack again and we showed that on Sunday. We need to show it once more against the Kiwis as they are renowned for their size and strength and power.

“We expect them to hit back now but they were strong on Sunday, too. They started off well and got into a 10-0 lead and we’re expecting them to be strong again.

“We know what to expect. They are the best team in the world and we need to really front up.

“I don’t want to tempt fate but the series is there for the taking.

“It sprung straight to mind after the first game that if we do the job this week, we’ll go two-nil up. That’s what we all want to do and I think it’s what the English public want us to do as well.

“Obviously, the Kiwis are quite a force and we know they are going to do their best to make sure that doesn’t happen. It has been a great year on a club note and now this is the first chance for me to have international success.

“I have been in teams that have been so close. I’ve been in wins over Wales and France, but never had a series win over the Kiwis or Australia.

“It would mean a lot to me, it would make 2015 a great year – one people will talk about for years. I will certainly tell the grandkids all about 2015. We just need to go and do it now.”