Hall relishing fresh start for Rhinos after 2016 woe


Ryan Hall has highlighted the importance of a strong start to the new Super League season for Leeds Rhinos as they look to bounce back from a woeful 2016.

Leeds secured a stunning treble two seasons ago - winning the Super League Grand Final, League Leaders' Shield and Challenge Cup.

However, in the absence of stalwarts Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai, last year proved a miserable one for the Rhinos, who suffered the ignominy of failing to even finish in the top eight.

Brian McDermott's men did at least pick up some momentum in the closing months of the campaign and Hall is hopeful that can carry into 2017 and Thursday's season-opener against St Helens.

The England winger told Omnisport: "The beauty of sport is you start again - everyone's on zero points and you get to be equal with teams again. We get the first opportunity to earn some points against Saints and I think it will be a tasty encounter.

"We lost the first game last year [at home to Warrington Wolves] and it dented us a little bit and obviously we never really recovered.

"All through pre-season, you build confidence in what you're doing, what you're doing in training. All of the teams will be heading into the season thinking, 'we're doing the right things' ... but you never really know until you get on to the field. To actually get some points on the board, that will be real confidence, to say 'right, that plan's working'.

"Obviously you can't really read too much into one win or one loss, but you get some actual tangible confidence [by winning].

"I think we started turning things around at the back end of last year when we were playing in the middle eights. We got some decent form there, we beat Wigan [Warriors] at home, who obviously went on to be Grand Final winners, and we beat Hull FC, who went on to win at Wembley.

"It would have been interesting to see, if we had scraped into the top eight, how we could have played against those teams ... but I suppose that's what 2017 is about. We started building from July ready for this year. Hopefully we can take the momentum from the back end of last year."

A prolific scorer during his time with the Rhinos, Hall - who was hampered by injury in 2016 - has been repeatedly linked with switches to rugby union or the NRL.

Yet the 29-year-old, under contract at Headingley until the end of the 2018 season, added: "It's funny, the way I get linked with teams, I don't know where it comes from because there's never any truth in it.

"I've never said I want to move to the NRL or anything, so if some guy is sat at home making up stuff and putting it on the internet it's a bit weird because I've got nothing to do with it. I'm a Leeds player and that's the way it stays for the next two years."