ENGLAND star Ryan Hall admits he always knew Ash Handley would come good as his Leeds Rhinos replacement - and told his dad as much before the season even got underway.
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Rhinos legend Hall - who scored 231 tries in 328 games for his hometown club - has just completed his first campaign as a Sydney Roosters player having left Headingley, helping them retain the NRL title.
Handley, who hails from the same Leeds amateur club Oulton Raiders, was promoted to the starting line-up after Hall’s departure to Australia and certainly seized his opportunity.
He scored 22 tries in 29 appearances, by far his best return yet, earned Dream Team recognition for the first time and selection for the England Nines squad alongside Hall.
Uncapped Handley, 23, is now in Sydney preparing for the inaugural World Cup Nines and has also been named as a stand-by for the Great Britain squad which will be announced later this afternoon.
Hall, 31, said: “My dad’s a big Rhinos fan and when I was leaving he said ‘What do you reckon to Ash, getting the number five shirt?’
“I said that I thought he’d go really, really well.
“That was before the season kicked off so I’m glad that it came true and he played to his potential.
“He’s still only a young kid so he’s still got a little bit left to go development-wise.
“But I am pretty proud of him for what he’s done as he was sat behind me for quite a long time, finally got his shot and taken it with both hands.
“Now we might get a chance to play together again for England Nines and it’s great to see.”