A lot is said when a 30-something comes to Super League from the NRL; it’s a holiday or one last pay day. But what is there to be said when it’s the other way around?
Hall’s quality is such that at 30-years-old he’s seen as an ideal replacement for one of the NRL’s stars in Blake Ferguson. In the early part of Hall’s career it was about the tries and plenty of them, heading up the scoring chart from 2008-2012. But since that time Hall has added tremendous qualities elsewhere that other wingers simply can’t boast.
He’s the top metre maker in Super League as it stands – he may have lost a slight of speed since he bulked up but his return game is second to none. And in the NRL, the return game is more important, arguably, than in England. There’s more structure to their plays and it’s less about free-flowing movement, which suits Hall perfectly.
He’s all about finishing – scoring in the tightest of corners – like in the game against Australia in 2011, where he smashed over legendary full-back Billy Slater to score an incredible try. His record within a structured setup such as the internationals with England is phenomenal, scoring 36 tries in 38 games for his country, and not just against lesser nations but against the might of the Kiwis and the ‘Roos as well.
Hall is at his best outside of an out and out centre, who could give him that extra bit of space so he doesn’t have to rely on sheer power and strength to score. Prime examples are alongside Leeds legend Keith Senior from 2008-2011 and international centre Jack Reed prior to Reed’s career ending injury. Both of those gave Hall the space to operate like a raging bull when the opportunity arose.
However, since 2012 he’s had to adapt his style to further his career. Most wingers would have crumbled into the background of their past, but Hall made sure his game advanced by improving his return game, acting as an extra forward at times for Leeds, by making sure he uses that hulk-like frame to good effect when the forwards tire, and then finishing like an outright winger should.
For me, that’s what the Roosters gain the most – an all-round player that can do just about anything. He can return the ball better than anyone in Super League and given the chance, can finish extremely well, too. Leeds and Super League as a competition aren’t very structured in how they attack and Hall has still done an incredible job despite playing better within a structured environment.
Fans of the Roosters shouldn’t be worried that a 30-year-old Englishman is replacing Ferguson. They should be excited that Hall is finally coming to the NRL and is playing for them. Even during bad games he can still produce moments of magic for the fans to savour; such as for Leeds against Huddersfield in 2015 where he scored in the last second to clinch the League Leaders Shield for the Rhinos.
Hall is the special talent that will break the stigma of English backs not being able to produce in the NRL. The English forwards have proved it, and Hall will prove that the backs can to.