By Josh Barrowcliff
Ryan Hall is confident England have what it takes to end New Zealand’s defence of the Rugby League World Cup when the two nations meet in the ‘Big Hit’ semi-final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday (1.00pm).
England booked their place in the tournament’s last four with a 34-6 win against France last Saturday and the 25-year-old winger knows they will have to put in a performance of the highest standard if they are to defeat the reigning world champions.
“When taking on New Zealand we have to make sure that we play to our strengths,” said Hall. “We know what we can do and perfecting that is something that we are looking to achieve. You cannot go and introduce new things and change the set-up just to suit their capabilities.
“Having watched them throughout the tournament it is clear that they come out and start very quickly, looking to put early tries on the board. You only have to see that they are the highest scoring team in the competition to know just how good they are.
“There are some very good individuals in the side and that means if we do not play well as a team then we can still score some points which we did against France.
“Obviously we have been working a lot on coming together as a team this week so that we do not make the same mistakes again.
“We are feeling very positive that we have managed to get to this stage, there have been some very tough games but we put in a good amount of effort during the group stages so hopefully we can go one step further again.”
The Leeds Rhinos star is currently the tournament’s leading scorer with eight tries in just four games but, despite his own form, Hall is keeping his focus firmly on a team win.
“Tries are always nice to score but they are just one helpful thing that I do for the team. As long as we are winning it does not really matter if I get on to the score board or not,” hesaid.
“If I am selected I will be up against either Roger Tuivasa-Sheck or Jason Nightingale. Both are excellent players and it will be important to limit their ability to run at our back line.
“I have played at Wembley a couple of times so I know what it is like to play there and venues like Old Trafford as well.
“Sometimes you find that when it does come to the big games, players who have not been in that situation before can be put off by it, but hopefully my experience of playing in big games will help me to perform well.
“The fans have been absolutely fantastic so far, being on home soil, so hopefully they can help us to get over the line and win the game.”
Demand for tickets for the ‘Big Hit’ RLWC2013 semi-final double-header at Wembley Stadium on Saturday November 23 – England v New Zealand (1.00pm) and Australia v Fiji (3.30pm) – is huge and fans are advised to move quickly to secure their seat. Tickets cost from just £20 (£10 concessions) and can be purchased by visiting www.rlwc2013.comor calling the 24-hour Ticket Hotline on 0844 847 2013.