ENGLAND WINGER Tom Briscoe says London Broncos will get a shock if they expect Leeds Rhinos to have their minds elsewhere tomorrow.
Rhinos take on London at The Hive, Barnet, tomorrow afternoon, exactly six days before they are back in the capital for the Tetley’s Challenge Cup final against Castleford Tigers.
Coach Brian McDermott will rest players for the clash with First Utility Super League’s bottom club, who have lost all their 24 competitive games this season, but Briscoe insisted he is keen to play and pledged to be fully focused on the job at hand.
“You want to play week-in, week-out,” said Briscoe, who was a try scorer in last Saturday’s semi-final win over Warrington Wolves.
“You’d like to keep your form up and I personally wouldn’t want to be going into the final having had a week off and maybe being a bit rusty from that. I’m looking forward to it. I guess it’s a bit of a dress rehearsal for going down there next week and I’m sure everybody will be up for the game.”
Briscoe said he won’t be worrying about the possibility of injury when he runs out at The Hive tomorrow.
With Ben Jones-Bishop sidelined for the rest of the season due to anterior cruciate knee ligament damage, suffered against Bradford Bulls two weeks ago, the loss of anyone in the outside-backs would be a disaster for Rhinos, as well as a shattering blow to the player involved.
Leeds have suffered at least one major injury in the run-up to most of their recent Challenge Cup finals, but Briscoe stressed: “If you go in thinking about that, it’s going to happen.
“You can’t go into things half-hearted and expect to come off best. I think that goes without saying, we are going to have to go down there and play our best and put everything in in order to get a win, get a good performance and come away with no injuries.”
Wins in their four remaining games would see Rhinos finish top of the Super League table and Briscoe described tomorrow’s game as a big one in its own right.
“It’s not just about not being the first team to lose against them,” he said. “It is more about us getting the two points and looking towards the league leaders’ shield at the end of the season.
“If you were London you’d probably be thinking we will have one eye on Wembley and you’d be expecting a weakened team, but I think they’ll get a shock when we go down there and perform to the best of our ability.”
Briscoe is on course for a second Wembley appearance in as many years after being part of the Hull team beaten 16-0 in the Cup final 12 months ago.
“I am really looking forward to it,” he said of this year’s showpiece. “Obviously last year was a disappointment, because of the result and the performance we put in.
“But it’s a new year, new team and hopefully a better performance and we are able to lift the Cup.”
Briscoe reckons last year’s experience will help him be at his best this time.
“The first time I played there, in 2008, it was all a bit of a shock,” he admitted.
“Last year it was a bit easier and obviously it gets easier the more you play there.
“You know what to expect, but the expectation and the enjoyment stays the same. It is a great week to be involved in.”
Briscoe said his appetite for the Cup final hasn’t been diminished by two previous appearances. He added: “It is actually more exciting this year.
“Having lost there twice in the final I want it even more now, to get the Cup.”
Briscoe admitted Hull let themselves down last year, but he is confident Rhinos will do themselves justice on the big occasion.
“The way we played in the quarter-finals and the semi-finals, against Catalan and Warrington, showed how we could play,” he said of Hull’s march to the Arch. “But come the final we just seemed to lose all the momentum we had gathered.”
Despite the mounting anticipation, Briscoe said Rhinos’ players won’t be focusing on the Wembley clash with Castleford Tigers until 4.40pm tomorrow, when the final hooter blows in the game against London.
“We have got a game to play before the final,” he stated. “Then come next week everybody will be bouncing and wanting to be involved in any way they can. “First of all we’ve got to get on with this game and do our job this week. It’s a long trip, but everyone has to do it and we’ve got to go down there next week and perform the best we’ve done all season, so it is a rehearsal for that.
“We will be looking at it that way.”
Meanwhile, the try against Warrington, which clinched Rhinos’ win, was a confidence-booster for Briscoe.
He said: “I enjoyed it. I’ve not scored quite as many in the last couple of weeks so it was nice to get over, especially in that situation.”