Halifax Panthers star James Woodburn-Hall on potential Super League promotion and returning “home” for 1895 Cup Wembley Final

BORN in London, play international rugby league for Jamaica and then settle in Halifax, it’s a true rugby league success story.

Well that is the story of Halifax Panthers star James Woodburn-Hall, who has been with the West Yorkshire club since 2016, who regularly impresses with his silky skills and ball-playing abilities.

Now 28 years of age, the Isleworth native will be heading back down to his home city for this weekend’s Wembley trip as Halifax prepare to take on Batley Bulldogs in the 1895 Cup Final.

It will be the first time Halifax will have made the trip to the iconic stadium since 1988 when they went down 32-12 to Wigan in that year’s Challenge Cup Final.

For Woodburn-Hall, it’s always been a dream to make it to Wembley.

“I can’t wait to be back in London. I love it, it is my home city. It’s not my side of London obviously but growing up I used to drive past Wembley Stadium so it’s always been a dream of mine to play there,” Woodburn-Hall told League Express.

“It can’t come quick enough, obviously there are nerves involved but it should be a great experience whatever the result. Hopefully we can win but I’m really looking forward to it.”

In terms of potential promotion to Super League at the end of the year, the Jamaican international is quietly confident that the Panthers can beat anyone on their day – as a 25-22 win over table-topping Featherstone Rovers last weekend proved.

“I’ve always believed that if you’re in the playoffs anything can happen, Batley did it last year.

“And after the result against Featherstone, they were maybe missing a couple of halfbacks, but we are a team that if we can get to the play-offs teams won’t want to play us. We’ve been really good at home this year we just need to fix our away form.

“I don’t want to say we can win it, but I certainly believe we can as we can beat anyone on our day. We just need to focus on getting to the play-offs but anything is possible.”

For Woodburn-Hall himself, he is a native Londoner that has found himself in Halifax for the past nine years – and it’s fair to say he is loving it after what he called an “easy” move from the capital.

“Moving away from London, I found it quite easy as I was already living out of my family home before I moved up here.

“I moved up here for uni and I joined a rugby club there and had a good group of people around me that were in a similar boat.

“It was an easy experience, but it was difficult leaving my brother and sister back home and I don’t see them as much as I’d like to but I’ve been up here nine years now.

“Would I go back to London? Maybe in the future but house prices are ridiculous!”

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