Hull KR's Ryan Hall says ex-Leeds Rhinos team-mate Elliot Minchella will bounce back

AS someone who knows what it is like to experience a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, Ryan Hall understands fully what Hull KR team-mate Elliot Minchella might be thinking right now.

Hull KR's Ryan Hall takes on St Helens last night. (ED SYKES/SWPIX)

However, the prolific winger also realises there is no reason why the talented loose forward, who suffered a suspected ACL injury in last night’s 25-0 loss at St Helens, cannot bounce back for Rovers - and possibly even earn England recognition.

Minchella, who was named the club’s vice-captain recently, had impressed when he came off the bench against Saints, but worryingly went down in a crumple towards the end of their second game of the new Super League campaign.

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Rovers coach Tony Smith says his medical staff believe the 25-year-old has suffered an ACL which, ordinarily, takes up to nine months to recover from; ultimately, season-ending.

That would be a significant blow for both the player - who has already battled back from early setbacks to forge an excellent career - and the East Yorkshire club.

Hall, the 33-year-old England winger who joined from Sydney Roosters in the autumn, has certainly been impressed with the influence of Minchella who he first played alongside at Leeds Rhinos.

Ironically, he was not on the field when a 17-year-old Minchella made a try-scoring Rhinos debut against Salford Red Devils in 2013.

Hall was a late withdrawal due to illness, missing his first game in 77 matches.

Hull KR's Elliot Minchella in action against Catalans Dragons in Super League Round One. (ALLAN MCKENZIE/SWPIX)

Minchella, though, played just five more games for Leeds.

In March 2015, he was investigated by police, along with Rhinos team-mate Zak Hardaker, following an assault on a student in Leeds and was made to pay £200 compensation to the victim.

Shortly afterwards, he was sent on loan to London Broncos for the rest of the season and eventually dropped down into the Championship with Sheffield Eagles.

It was there he honed his talent, becoming one of the second tier’s top forwards.

Elliot Minchella celebrates after Bradford Bulls' shock Challenge Cup win over Leeds Rhinos in 2019. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

After two years in South Yorkshire, he moved to hometown Bradford Bulls - even though they were in League 1 - and, after scoring 45 tries in 59 games, earned his move back to Super League with Rovers last term.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Hall said: “Elliot’s time away at other clubs since he left Leeds has seen him massively develop.

“He’s come back to Super League now with a real niche way of playing.

“It’s very sought after what he does - a ball-playing 13 - and it’s an art.

Elliot Minchella in action for Leeds Rhinos against London Broncos in 2014. (ALEX WHITEHEAD/SWPIX)

“Some of the best players in recent history have played in that way - Kevin Sinfield, Sean O’Loughlin - and they are great qualities to have.

“Elliot was developing into one of those players who is key for our team.

“When he came on last night, our team performed better and in a different way; we went from one structure to another.

“If it is his ACL, which is looking quite likely, we are going to miss him and his ability to do that.

“But he’s developed as a person as well since the time I had with him at Leeds; it’s not just as a player where there’s been improvement.

“As long as he carries on like that, with that right attitude, I’m sure he’ll come back stronger.”

Hull KR's Elliot Minchella is helped off in last night's game against St Helens (PA)

Hall suffered his own ACL injury playing for Leeds in August 2018, an injury that ended his prolific Rhinos career - 232 tries in 327 games - as he moved to the NRL the following year.

Explaining what the experience is like, he said: “It’s just frustrating.

“People do return well from it. If you look at those who have suffered it, some of the best players in the world have had it happen to them.

“But you are out of action for a while and when you do come back you need to get your confidence back up as you are a bit nervous with it.

“It does take a long time out of your life rehabbing your knee; you spend nine months thinking about your knee so when you get back to playing, it’s obvious you are going to think about it.

“It’s natural that you want to protect it and you know playing rugby league is probably not the best way to do that.

“But once you get over that hurdle, it is fine and I know I don’t have any issues with my knee now.”

Tough, industrious and skilful, Minchella has been talked about as a future England player and Hall - England’s record scorer with 36 tries in 38 Tests - believes he could push on and play for the national side.

“Tom Johnstone’s had two ACLs and he’s played for England,” he said

“I certainly think Elliot can go on and do it, too.

“The physios will be around him and it’s a mental battle more than anything.

“If your head is in the right place, there’s no reason why you can’t get back fine.”

Rovers were always going to struggle after falling 10-0 behind inside the opening eight minutes last night.

It was a common issue last season, when they finished bottom, and occurred in their opening game, too, when they were 28-4 behind against Catalans Dragons.

A Hall hat-trick helped them dramatically level that contest 28-28 only to lose to James Maloney’s Golden Point drop goal.

“To go behind like that was disappointing last night especially as we’d addressed it beforehand,” said the Great Britain star.

“We talked about it but the same happened as last week.

“This time though we were against the champions and it was harder to claw it back.

“You saw that; even in the 77th minute, when we made a semi-break, Saints were swarming back and celebrating when they stopped us scoring. It’s a champion attitude.

“But, after we went behind, I was encouraged by what we did, especially in that main part of the game.

“In fact, I was more encouraged by that performance than I was by last week which sounds bizarre as we lost in Golden Point extra-time to Catalans but were nilled by Saints.

“I do think there was more positives to take from last night, especially with our eagerness and determination in defence.

“Saints felt the need to take two points in the second half to make it 12-0 and for a side like them - who pride themselves as an attacking team - it shows they know we are a team to be reckoned with.

“We know our offence didn’t fire and we have to work on that but there were still plenty of positives for us.”

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