FORMER HULL winger Tom Briscoe is looking forward to returning to a “happy hunting ground” when Leeds Rhinos visit KCOM Stadium today.
This afternoon’s hosts were the only Super League team not to beat Rhinos last season.
Leeds won 20-18 at home and 20-15 at the KCOM Stadium in 2016 and are on a six-match successful run against the Black and Whites, four of those victories coming on the road.
Hull’s last win against Rhinos was in September, 2014 and Briscoe is confident Leeds can inflict more pain on his old club, if they improve on a few areas from last week’s defeat at Warrington Wolves.
“I’m not sure why we’ve got such a good record against them recently,” Briscoe said of Hull.
“Some teams you seem to play well against and against others you seem to not put your best foot forward – like last week against Warrington. We seem to struggle over there.
“Hull is a happy hunting ground for us and hopefully we can keep that tradition and stat going, but it is always a tough game there.
“I know from being involved with Hull it is always a game they get revved up for and they really look forward to putting in a good performance.
“The atmosphere and the crowd there is great, they have great support and I always enjoy going back there.”
Hull’s fans usually give past players a fiery welcome and Briscoe expects to also be targeted by the hosts’ kicking game today.
Marc Sneyd will be looking to repeat the success Declan Patton and Kurt Gidley had when they peppered Rhinos’ right-side last week.
“Obviously there were a couple of tries down there,” Briscoe said.
“Hull will be looking at the video and will have seen that.
“It’s down to me to be a little bit better in that areas and do as much as I can to stop those tries.”
Hull are fourth in Betfred Super League, one point and a place behind Leeds, but have a game in hand.
That makes today a ‘four-pointer’ and Briscoe reckons if Rhinos can get back to winning ways – and back up at home to Widnes Vikings on Monday – they will be in good shape with almost half the regular season completed.
“It is a tough period,” he said.
“Within two weeks you’ve got four games. We’ve got one in the Challenge Cup so there’s not as many points up for grabs for us, but it can make or break teams’ seasons.
“We will have a better understanding of how the table will look at the end of the next two weeks.”
Injuries will force a reshuffle today, but Rhinos are in a much healthier state on the table than 12 months ago.
The win at home to Hull a year ago tomorrow was only their third victory in 11 league games.
After struggling near the foot of Super League throughout the 2016 regular season, Briscoe admitted Rhinos would have settled for being third at Easter if that was offered before this season began.
“The hard thing is in the games we’ve lost we haven’t quite played as well as we could,” he said.
“That’s the disappointing thing. Looking forward, we know the areas we’ve got to improve on and hopefully we can do that this week.”
Three games in a week will test Rhinos’ squad. Brad Singleton will complete his six-game ban on Monday, but Brett Ferres has served just one match of a similar suspension.
Jimmy Keinhorst needs surgery on an injured hand and could be out for up to three months and Carl Ablett (knee) is facing an eight-week lay-off.
Ash Handley and Jack Ormondroyd are unavailable after being injured playing on dual-registration for Featherstone Rovers, but long-term casualties Keith Galloway and Stevie Ward have been named in today’s squad.
Jordan Baldwinson and Mikolaj Oledzki could feature after spells with Featherstone and Jordan Lilley and Josh Jordan-Roberts has been recalled by Leeds from loan at Bradford Bulls, though the latter is not in today’s 19.
All four have impressed in the Kingstone Press Championship and Briscoe said: “That’s great for us, when we’ve got injuries.
“They have been tested in the Championship and at other clubs and I think it has been a good decision by the club to let them gain some experience and keep their game-fitness up.
“It has got them used to playing intense games – which they probably would not have got within the academy – against full-grown men.
“I am sure whoever gets the call-up this weekend and in the future, we will have every confidence in them to step up and bring their enthusiasm and what they’ve been doing well in the past few weeks to our team.”
Rhinos under-19s are away to Huddersfield Giants at Lockwood Park tomorrow (2pm).
Hull: from Shaul, Fonua, Tuimavave, Griffin, Talanoa, Kelly, Sneyd, Taylor, Watts, Minichiello, Ellis, Connor, Thompson, Washbrook, Michaels, Manu, Bowden, Turgut, Fash.
Leeds Rhinos: from Golding, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Galloway, Parcell, Cuthbertson, Jones-Buchanan, Ward, Sutcliffe, Delaney, Garbutt, Mullally, Baldwinson, Lillley, Oledzki
Referee: James Child (Batley).
Kick-off: Today, 3pm.