I was 27 when I went to Wests Tigers, so a few years younger than Hally, but the circumstances are similar in that it’s probably now or never.
I had a four-year contract on the table at Leeds so if I re-signed for them I was probably going to play out the rest of my days there. It was a case of either take the opportunity now or put it to bed and never do it.
Hally has achieved everything possible at Leeds, there’s not many more decorated players in Super League, so to get the chance to go and play in Australia and the NRL, the best rugby league competition in the world and at a great club like Roosters, he is going to get the best of everything.
They have probably the best squad in the NRL and he will only add to that – and Eastern Suburbs isn’t a bad place to live.
I did go for the rugby side of things, but when I got there it was much more than that.
The experience of living over there was great, so were the people I met and I was made really welcome as an overseas player.
Those were probably the things that worried me the most when I went. I think Ryan will go over to Sydney with a bigger reputation than I had when I went.
He has been seen as a world class winger for many years and I think with the talent he has he’ll be a success wherever he goes.
The challenge of the NRL is that it’s tough every week and you get scrutinised a lot more because every game’s on TV.
There’s much more media coverage around every single game, but I think that’s what brings the best out of you.
Hally is a laid-back character, nothing seems to fluster him and I think he’ll settle in really well.
Obviously it’s not good for Super League to be losing such a classy player, but at the moment you are never going to stop our best players going to the NRL if that’s what they want to do.
Even in my current role if one of our players said he wanted to go I wouldn’t be able to look him in the eye and say, ‘don’t do it’ knowing how much I enjoyed and benefited from it.
We need to find a way of reaping the rewards from our England players going to the NRL, but it is a great advertisement for English rugby league if players go over there and thrive.