Voted the winger of the year by the Rugby League International Federation earlier this week, England try-machine Ryan Hall was flattered to be recognised as the world’s best winger, when the panel of judges voted him ahead of his rivals in Super League and the NRL competition in Australia.
The Leeds Rhinos marksman has been in outstanding form at club level in 2012, scoring 33 touchdowns before going onto to win his fourth Grand Final ring in five years to top off another outstanding campaign from the former Oulton Raiders junior.
With the international season ready to start in earnest in 10 days time, Hall is itching to be part of what he believes could be a special year for his country at the highest level of Rugby League.
“To receive the award as the winger of the year is a big achievement,” said Hall, who is preparing in the warm climates of South Africa with his England colleagues ahead of their opening game against Wales in the Autumn International Series on Saturday October 27 (2.30pm).
“It has come as a shock and I didn’t think I would win it. I am flattered and just want to carry on my form into the international matches. It has been a whirlwind ride at Leeds this season and to win the Gran Final from fifth for a second successive season was very special. We worked damn hard to get to Old Trafford and we had this inner belief we could do it. That has gone now and my full attention is with England and making sure we get some strong performances in against Wales and France.
“I love playing for my country. We don’t get many opportunities to do it when you compare it to football and rugby union but with the World Cup next year to look forward to; playing for England is a massive part of my life. That’s why we are taking this tournament very seriously. We are getting used to each other and England is becoming very much a like a club, in many ways it is your second team. All year we go out to destroy our opponents in the Super League but when those same blokes become your teammates with England it is a nice contrast.
With the South African camp coming to an end, Hall believes training in new surroundings can only enhance England’s preparations against the world’s best.
“The camp has been very professional and really hard work,” added Hall.
“I have never worked so hard. The warm climate and training at high-altitude really takes it out of you. The facilities are out of this world and with everything self-contained close to your accommodation; you can literally walk out of your bedroom straight onto the pitch.
“I’ve been told we will really feel the benefit when we get home and start preparing for Wales. It will be fascinating to see how fresh we will be.”
England’s opening match in the Autumn International Series will see them face Wales at the Glyndwr University Racecourse Ground in Wrexham on Saturday October 27 (2.30pm).
Their first ‘home’ fixture takes place a week later, Saturday November 3, at MS3 Craven Park in Hull when England host France in a match which also kicks off at 2.30pm.
The Autumn International Series concludes with the final at Salford City Stadium on Sunday November 11 (5.00pm).
Tickets for the 2012 Autumn International Series cost just £12 for adults and £6 concessions and can be purchased by calling the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 856 1113 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk