ENGLAND duty offers Leeds Rhinos winger Ryan Hall the chance to salvage something from a disappointing year.
Hall took his tally of Test tries to 28 in as many appearances with a brace in last week’s win over France and is set to start in today’s Ladbrokes Four Nations encounter with New Zealand in Huddersfield.
The 28-year-old touched down six times in 17 games for Leeds in 2016 – his poorest tally since his debut season in 2007 – but insisted England selection has provided a welcome confidence boost.
“I am always very proud to represent my country,” said Hall, who has been a mainstay of the England side since 2009.
“I am very proud to be in the squad and playing, especially after the season I have had. It was a bit of an indifferent season with Leeds and, personally, my form wasn’t the best either.
“I thought 2016 might have been a bit of a failure for me, but it is not finished yet. There’s still a lot of rugby to play in the Four Nations and I have taken a lot of confidence from the fact (coach) Wayne Bennett has picked me.
“He is confident in my ability to perform against the best sides in the world.”
Three Leeds players – Hall, Kallum Watkins and Stevie Ward, who replaced injured team-mate Brett Ferres – are in Bennett’s 24-man squad. Rhinos finished ninth in Super League and spent the final third of the season fighting for their top-flight lives in the Qualifiers.
Hall admitted: “I don’t know if I’d say I was surprised (to be selected), but this year more than most it was up in the air a bit.
“Other players have been very good. As years go by, other people get older and more experienced and become better players.
“It was unfortunate Dom Manfredi at Wigan got injured, because I thought he was exceptional this year.
“But that’s part of rugby league. I was fit at the end of the year and Wayne Bennett has seen fit to pick me in the squad. From a personal point of view – and it’s probably the same for Kallum and Stevie – it’s been a disappointing year and I’ve got some proving to do.
“It (the Four Nations) is chance to put 2016 right and you can count on us to do so.”
Hall feels he can improve, despite his brace against France.
He said: “It was nice to play again. There’s some little things I need to take care of, that I didn’t execute very well, but it was good to get the win.
“It’s always hard to travel in and out of France in a day and it was an intimidating atmosphere.
“We had a good camp in London and got the win in France. Everyone’s fit and healthy and raring to go.”
Today’s winners will be favourites to meet Australia in the tournament final at Liverpool FC’s Anfield on Sunday, November 20.
“There’s only three games before the final,” Hall pointed out.
“We’ve got to win two of them. The quicker we can get two wins on the board the better it will be for our confidence.
“The last thing we want to be doing is chasing, but it is going to be a tough task against the Kiwis.
“They are still the No 1 team in the world, but we had a great series against them last year and that will go a long way to giving us confidence to do it again.”