LEEDS Rhinos winger Ryan Hall admits he has never been intimidated by Australia.
The England star will look to cement his status as the world’s best winger when he takes on the Kangaroos at Cardiff today.
But Leeds-born Hall concedes he has never been bothered by the reputation of the famed tourists.
“When you start off as a young kid, the media over here like to idolise Australians so they get put on a pedestal,” he said.
“It means these games are massive occasions and they are definitely up there with Grand Finals.
“But I didn’t really watch rugby when I was young. I just played.
“My mates would come in saying they want to be Joey Johns or Darren Lockyer to someone but I didn’t really know who they were on about.”
However, the Australians certainly know who Hall is now.
He memorably scored two brilliant tries when the sides met during the Four Nations at Wembley two years ago.
Soon after, Hall raced in a 95m interception effort to help Leeds defeat Melbourne Storm in the 2012 World Club Challenge so it was no surprise he was voted the sport’s finest winger at the end of last year. However, for all the success he has enjoyed with Leeds – four Super League titles and that WCC victory – international glory still eludes him and his England colleagues.
“It was a positive note for myself those tries I scored at Wembley as a lot got made of it at the time and on the back of that my profile got boosted,” added the prolific 25-year-old, who has 13 tries in 15 games for England.
“A lot of things opened up for me and I’ve very fond memories of that game personally.
“But, on the day, the team lost that game. The same thing happened a couple of weeks later in the final; we were with Australia for 60 minutes and then it went pear-shaped.
“Hopefully we’ve learned our lessons and we can go one step further this time around by going on and winning the tournament.
“It’s my first World Cup – I made my international debut in 2009, the year after the last one in Australia – so I’m excited.
“This is bigger still than the Four Nations and encapsulates everything the sport is about.”
Some people have questioned Hall’s form this season but that is perhaps only due to the remarkably high standards he has set previously.
He had scored more than 30 tries in each of the last four seasons but, this time around, crossed just 16 times in his 32 games.
It is a paltry return by his standards but he insisted: “I feel fine. There’s other aspects to my game other than try-scoring.
“It has been bit lower than previous years but I’m not disheartened by that and have still been selected in the international set-up.
“We’re all looking forward to facing Australia.
“It’s just about getting down to it and doing it for the full 80 minutes.
“We’ve been guilty of being a 60-minute side on the international scene but hopefully that will change on Saturday.
“The loss against Italy last week was just a blip on the radar.
“We won’t be dragging our heels over it.”