SURPRISE RE-SIGNING Luke Briscoe has admitted his second chance at Leeds Rhinos was a bolt from the blue.
Briscoe took a wing spot – for his first Rhinos start – in last Friday’s 28-20 First Utility Super League defeat at Huddersfield Giants.
His shock appearance came two years after he last played for the club and was his first game at any level since he suffered a serious knee injury in a game for Hunslet Hawks during the summer of 2015.
Briscoe has been named in Rhinos’ initial 19-man squad for tomorrow’s return to Huddersfield in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup, though he could drop out if Zak Hardaker – as expected – returns from a head injury.
Briscoe, a former England academy international, joined Rhinos from Hull’s academy and made three substitute appearances, scoring one try, in the 2014 season.
He also played twice on loan for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats that year and finished the season on dual-registration with Hunslet Hawks, playing in their promotion-clinching Championship One Grand Final victory over Oldham at Headingley.
He then signed for Hunslet, but his contract expired last autumn and he was a free agent when Rhinos stepped in to offer a deal until the end of this season.
“It was a shock to the system,” Briscoe, who can play in a number of positions, said of Rhinos’ decision to re-sign him as cover during their current injury crisis.
“But it is good to be back after being out for 10 months.
“It is something I have been looking forward to. Being out for so long makes you want to come back bigger and better.”
Explaining the circumstances behind his return to Headingley, Briscoe – younger brother of Rhinos winger Tom – said: “I did my lcl – lateral collateral ligament – playing for Hunslet in June last year and I had a full reconstruction on it.
“I had signed for Hunslet last year, but I was out of contract at the end of the season and Leeds have been looking after me re-hab’-wise and helping me to get back fit.”
With both senior wingers –Tom Briscoe and Ryan Hall – on the casualty list and Hardaker also unavailable, Rhinos were left without any senior cover last weekend.
That meant Briscoe was thrown in at the deep end.
He said: “That was a shock, but if you get a chance you have to take it. I felt all right, my main aim was to get through the game unscathed.
“That happened so I want to kick on now and hopefully get better. My knee was spot on, it felt good.”
Briscoe now has an opportunity to earn a new deal with Leeds, or put himself in the shop window when other top-flight clubs are looking to recruit.
“Hopefully I can try and get a regular spot and play as well as I can,” he added.
“I’d like to earn a new contract, but that’s in time to come. I want to stay in Super League, it’s good to be back and I’d love to extend the contract.”
Briscoe is confident Rhinos can reverse last week’s result in tomorrow’s tie. He described the mood in the camp as good and said: “Everybody’s up for it. It is a new week and a new game. We want to put last week behind us and hopefully kick on.”