It’s the cross-code story that has turned heads on both sides of the Barassi Line; Penrith winger Josh Hall proved his athletic prowess upon a successful transition into Rugby League this year.
The Townsville junior and lifetime Rugby League fan has had the most unique of journeys into his current role on the wing for the Panthers, having already proved himself in two other sports. Hall was first a Rugby League player, but with an exceptional talent in the air he found himself pursuing a career in high jump as a youngster. Earning a bronze medal in the World Youth Championships in 2007, Hall was well on the way to a lifetime involvement in the sport.
Working as a physiotherapist for an Australian Rules football club in 2011, Hall was asked to play for the club when they were a player short; immediately taking to the new code, he was contacted by AFL club the Gold Coast Suns for a contract and would play seven games in the top grade.
Hall, however, was destined to return to the Greatest Game Of All. That dream was realised when Panthers boss Phil Gould contacted him last year and a unique path into Rugby League was realised in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW. With an exceptional ability in the air and with the boot – two skills undoubtedly developed in Australian Rules – Hall was a standout in the Panthers, kicking 54 goals and scoring 11 tries to finish as the competition’s leading try scorer.
Having played in the first 20 games of the Panthers’ season, Hall was unfortunately ruled out with a back injury and missed the final three, watching from afar as Penrith were beaten by the Warriors in Sunday’s Elimination Final.
At 26 years of age, Hall had been hopeful of earning an NRL debut this season, but having signed a two-year deal at the foot of the mountains, he will run around once again in the hope of first grade experience next year. While, understandably, some areas of his game will take some time to develop, Hall could certainly be a valuable attacking weapon if utilised properly in the NRL. Fans of Rugby League in general should hope to see what the AFL convert can do in the top grade next year.
Witness history this September at the 2016 NSWRL Grand Final Day. On Sunday, 25 September the Intrust Super Premiership NSW decider, along with the Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield Grand Finals, take place at Pirtek Stadium, with tickets just $10 for adults and kids under 12 free. Click here to secure your seat.