Big year ahead for Leeds Rhinos' Luke Briscoe - winger aims to secure new contract
There will be no shortage of motivation for Leeds Rhinos’ Luke Briscoe this year.
The winger, who will turn 27 on March 11, had surgery on a shoulder during the off-season, but is keen to get back in the mix and earn a new contract.
He also has a burning ambition to play on the big stage, having been a travelling reserve when Rhinos won the Challenge Cup at Wembley last season.
Younger brother of another Rhinos winger Tom Briscoe, the Featherstone-born flier is believed to be the only player in Leeds’ history to be re-signed by them twice.
He began his career in the junior ranks at Hull and made his Rhinos debut in 2014, played for Hunslet on dual-registration the following year and had a loan spell with Wakefield Trinity before rejoining Leeds in 2016.
Having then signed for Featherstone, he rejoined Rhinos in the summer of 2018 when Ryan Hall’s call-up for England’s Test match against New Zealand in Denver, USA, left them with only one specialist winger.
He has also featured on dual-registration for Rovers during his latest contract with Leeds and scored four tries in 14 Rhinos appearances last year, including a spectacular touchdown in a comeback win over Huddersfield Giants at Emerald Headingley.
After previously playing at full-back, centre and hooker, Briscoe is now established as a winger and is joint-holder - with Leeds’ all-time leading try scorer Eric Harris - of the British record of touchdowns in 17 consecutive games, for Featherstone three years ago.
In his various spells at Leeds, Briscoe has had to battle with England man Ryan Hall, his brother and now Super League’s 2020 top try scorer Ash Handley for a place in the side and with youngster Liam Tindall now also in the picture, he knows he needs to hit the ground running.
“It is my last year [on contract], so that’s why I am trying to get back fit as soon as I can,” Briscoe said.
“I want to get back in contention and get back playing - I have got to earn a new contract so it is a big year for me.”
Recovery from his shoulder operation is going well and Briscoe is stepping up training as pre-season enters its final few weeks.
“It’s not too bad now,” he said of the repaired shoulder. “I am just working on getting my strength back, I am filtering in and out of training, I’ve started a bit of contact and I’ll progress from there.”
Rhinos are less than a month away from their opening Betfred Super League fixture, against Wakefield at Headingley on Saturday, March 27.
Briscoe insisted: “That is still the goal, I have got most of my mobility back so it’s just a matter of time now - building my strength and getting back to the contact side of things.
“I did it [the injury] a couple of years back; it wasn’t too bad, but then I re-did it last year which made it a lot worse, so I had to have surgery on it then.”
Briscoe described his time in Rhinos’ senior squad as “a bit up and down”, but reckons he is still learning.
“I think the game is always evolving and changing,” he said. “There’s obviously new rules and the game gets quicker, I don’t think there’s ever a point when you’re not learning.”
Team-wise he feels Rhinos are in a good position to build on last year’s success.
“The [training] sessions have been good and the team bonding is there,” he reported. “Hopefully we can carry that on in the games and go far and win some trophies this year.”
Briscoe was named in Rhinos initial 21-man squad for last year’s Challenge Cup final, but did not feature in the Wembley 17. He admitted: “Obviously, being around it and being there, it makes you want to be involved in it. It makes you hungrier, makes you want to play in those big games.”
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