LONG-TERM casualty Kyle Briggs is ready to return to Featherstone Rovers action – and prove he is still Super League class.
The Leeds-born stand-off played only eight games last year before suffering a serious knee injury which required major surgery.
Now close to full fitness he expects to make his comeback in one of Rovers’ pre-season trial games, though Sunday’s home clash with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats may come too soon. His return will be a major boost for Rovers and the start of what Briggs hopes is the road back to the top-flight.
Briggs began his career in Leeds’ academy before earning a big reputation during his first spell at Featherstone, in 2009 and 2010. He was snapped up by Bradford Bulls just ahead of the 2011 season, but made only nine Super League appearances – including three on loan at Harlequins – before rejoining Rovers on loan in 2012, a deal which was made permanent at the end of the campaign.
“I totally ruptured my cruciate ligament, so I had a knee reconstruction,” he said of last year’s setback, which occurred in the Challenge Cup defeat at London on April 20.
“It was a pretty good one, but I am getting there now, I am at the back end of it. I am training and I’m hoping to get the last few friendlies in before the start of the season and then get back into it.
“It won’t be too long now, I’ve been working hard with the physio and hopefully after another few weeks off I’ll be all right.”
The lay-off has been tough for a player who still has big ambitions.
“It has been frustrating,” he admitted. “It is hard, you feel a bit out of it when you’re not playing. It is hard seeing the boys playing and I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things.
“It is my new year’s resolution to get back to how I was. It is going to take some time because I’ve been out for a while, but I’ll get there eventually.”
New coach John Bastian has rebuilt Rovers’ squad over the off-season and Briggs accepts he isn’t guaranteed a place.
“There’s a massive squad this year and places are up for grabs,” he said. There’s a fair bit of competition, but if I get my head down and train hard I’m sure I’ll work my way back in somehow.
“There’re a lot of changes, coaching staff and players and a lot going on, but it’s all good. The club is going in the right direction – forward. It is going to be an interesting year for us.”
Briggs and Rovers want to play in Super League next year – and he believes they could do it together: “That’s my goal. I sat down with John [Bastian] and told him my ambition is to make Super League again, whether that’s with Fev or without.
“That’s my own personal ambition and it’s where I want to be. I want another crack at it. I don’t think I had a fair crack at it last time, so I want to get there again and show what I can do.
“I want to prove the doubters wrong.”
Briggs was among the crowd when Rovers began their pre-season campaign with a 26-0 home win over Hunslet Hawks in the Gareth Swift memorial game last Wednesday. After taking on Wakefield this Sunday they play host to Kingstone Press Championship rivals Halifax on January 19, are at home to Castleford Tigers seven days later and complete their trial games when Hull visit Big Fellas Stadium on February 2.
Rovers open their league season away to Dewsbury Rams on Sunday, February 16.