Leeds Rhinos: Tough opening is fine with Tom

Leeds Rhinos' Tom Briscoe.
Leeds Rhinos' Tom Briscoe.
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A HOSTILE, full-house crowd will hold no fears for Tom 
Briscoe when he makes his Leeds Rhinos debut at Hull KR on Sunday.

The England winger joined Rhinos from Hull four months ago and is a veteran of East Yorkshire derbies at Craven Park.

Rovers will be opening a new stand for away fans this weekend and have already sold more than 10,300 tickets for their First Utility Super League season kick-off.

That means the game is guaranteed a stadium record crowd, beating the 10,250 who watched a derby showdown with Hull three years ago.

Sunday’s game will be only the fourth time in what is now KC Lightstream Stadium’s 
25-year history it has hosted a five-figure gate.

Hull KR is traditionally a tough environment for away teams, but Briscoe is confident Rhinos can silence the volatile Rovers support.

“I suppose if my first game wasn’t going to be against Hull FC it was going to be Hull KR,” said Briscoe, who played in front of the previous record crowd in 2011.

“I wasn’t surprised when the fixtures came out, but I am really looking forward to it. It will be a different experience going there with Leeds, but I am sure the abuse the players get is the same. Surely it can’t get bad as on derby day? I have played there many a time when it has been sold out and I think with the new stand they will get an even bigger crowd.

“They are talking about it being a capacity crowd and that will enhance the hostile nature of the atmosphere.”

Briscoe began training with Rhinos at the start of January, along with Leeds’s other England World Cup players.

And he admitted he is itching to get started, after an initial try-scoring run-out in Ryan Bailey’s testimonial game last month.

“I’ve had a month or so and I think I needed that month to get to know everybody, all the players and all the subtleties in everybody’s game,” he said.

“Coming to a new club is a different experience, but I think having played alongside a lot of the boys for England has made it a bit easier to settle in here.

“I know a few of them anyway and the rest of the team has welcomed me in and made me feel accepted straight away.

“I am really looking forward to playing now and I can’t wait to get out there.”

Briscoe is one of six players vying for five spots in Rhinos’ outside-backs this year.

“There’s a lot of youth and a lot of talent here,” Briscoe said.

“Getting to be part of that is great and hopefully it will push me to improve my game.”

The former Featherstone Lions amateur scored 90 tries in 143 starts and four substitute appearances for Hull.

Leeds’s other England winger Ryan Hall has crossed 156 times in 193 Rhinos appearances, all but two of those in the starting line-up. Hall needs one try to join ex-St Helens star Keiron Cunningham in 10th spot on Super League’s list of all-time try scorers, with 138.

Tom Briscoe.

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