LEEDS RHINOS will need a season’s-best performance to get to Wembley this afternoon.
Rhinos face Hull in a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium.
And Leeds winger Tom Briscoe reckons only their best will be good enough to prise Hull’s hands off the famous trophy.
“We will need to probably be the best we’ve been this season,” Briscoe – who began his career with Hull – predicted.
“It’s a big game and it’s all to play for.
“The prize of getting to Wembley again is going to be a massive drive for both teams.
“With them having won it last year and us the two previous years there’s some good recent history with the two clubs.
“It will be a good battle.”
Rhinos won 10-7 when the teams met at Headingley in Betfred Super League only 15 days ago.
But Briscoe insisted: “If anything, that will make them more hungry to get the win – a bit of revenge type of thing.
“I don’t think it will have much bearing, other than looking at what went right and what went wrong.”
Briscoe reckons Hull will improve today after an error-ridden performance in the previous meeting.
“I think they definitely will be better,” he warned.
“They have got Gaz Ellis back and Albert Kelly.
“They are two massive players for them and I’m sure, with it being the Challenge Cup, they are going to want to do their best to retain it.
“They will be giving everything to get back to Wembley.”
Leeds finished one place and three points ahead of Hull on the regular Super League table.
They are on an eight game winning streak against the black and whites and longer-term history is also on their side.
Today’s meeting will be the teams’ eighth in the Challenge Cup since 2000 and Hull’s only win came in the 2005 final.
But Briscoe said none of that will matter this afternoon.
He stressed: “Looking at Hull, they are a bit inconsistent, like ourselves, but over the last year they have found a way to win.
“Especially while I was there they got up for the big games and got to the final twice. They really do raise their game, especially against Leeds.
“It’s always a close game and it is going to be the same. It will be probably the toughest game we’ve played this season.”
Briscoe was twice a Cup runner-up with Hull and played in Leeds’ 2014 and 2015 victories.
He set a new record with five tries against Hull KR in the final two years ago, when he was man of the match.
“It would be massive to get back there,” he said.
“The last time I played there I got the Lance Todd and scored the five tries so I’ve got amazing memories of Wembley.
“With Hull I lost twice there so I know how much they will want to win there. They won there last year and that’ll be a massive drive to get back.
“Like we did, once you have been there and won you want to go back there and taste it again.”
Meanwhile, Hull hooker Danny Houghton reckons their run of eight successive defeats against Leeds will have no bearing today. “I think the record is irrelevant in terms of going into a Challenge Cup semi-final,” said Houghton who was man of the match in Hull’s Wembley win over Warrington Wolves last year.
“It’s knockout rugby and there’s no need to dwell on that. We’ve just been thinking about getting the job done to hopefully get to Wembley. Champion teams retain the trophy and we don’t want to be known as a club that are one-hit wonders.
“We want to really fight for it and make sure we give ourselves a real chance of retaining it. The memories we had last year we will cherish and talk about forever. If we can repeat that and hopefully get those experiences back it’d be great.”