Leeds Rhinos Lance Todd heroes Ryan Hall and Tom Briscoe clash in Challenge Cup final as Hull KR face Leigh
and live on Freeview channel 276
Leigh Leopards’ Tom Briscoe scored five tries when Rhinos routed Hull KR 50-0 in 2015. He collected that year’s Lance Todd Trophy from previous Wembley man of the match Ryan Hall, who bagged a brace against Castleford Tigers 12 months earlier and now plays for the Robins.
With Briscoe on the right and Hall a left-winger, the former teammates will be in direct opposition on Saturday, if the Rovers man recovers from injury in time.
“It is a twist of fate, putting us up against each other,” Briscoe said. “I am hoping he does play.
“I always enjoy going up against him, I like to challenge myself against the best players and Ryan’s right up there with the best wingers.
“It is strange, after what we’ve won together, to be playing against each other. It is a different experience.”
Briscoe also scored in Rhinos’ 2014 and 2020 Challenge Cup final wins and was twice a runner-up with Hull FC. His seven Wembley touchdowns is a record, but he reckons “the tries don’t count if you don’t get a win”.
He said: “I’d give up all my tries to get another winner’s medal in this game. We have got a tough ask against a tough Hull KR team, but we are going in full of confidence.”
Saturday’s final is the first since 1986 - when Castleford beat Hull KR - not to feature one or more of Leeds, Wigan, St Helens or Warrington.
Leigh haven’t been to Wembley since the infamous 1971 win over Leeds and Briscoe’s experience of the big occasion will be invaluable. But he stressed: “There’s a lot of experience in the team as well.
“We have got a lot of winner’s medals and experience in big games and Super League within the squad.”
Zak Hardaker, a Leeds teammate from 2014 and 2015, is one of the other Leigh players who has featured at Wembley in the past.
The connection to eight years ago continues through head of rugby Chris Chester who coached Hull KR that afternoon, something Briscoe admits he wasn’t aware of when he joined Leigh in pre-season.
“A couple of months in , we were talking about it and he overheard and mentioned it,” Briscoe recalled.
“It never clicked when I signed. That’s another one, Chris being part of the team and going up against Hull KR after he had a tough day that afternoon.”
Briscoe played for Rhinos from 2014 until last season, but wasn’t offered a new contract and was snapped up by promoted Leigh to strengthen their Super League squad.
At the time it seemed his days of playing in major finals might be over, but the 33-year-old insisted: “You never give up on your aspirations.”
He said: “I want to play in the big games and play the best rugby I can and be in the best teams, but I think when you leave big teams those expectations get less.
“Getting older as well, the amount of opportunities you get become less and less. To be able to do it again and go around one more time, that makes it extra special this year.”
But that doesn’t mean Briscoe is ready to hang up his boots. He added: “There’s no plans. I have got one more year left at Leigh after this one and the way I am going, I can’t see any reason to finish.
“I am really enjoying it, my body feels good and I am feeling fit. There’s no reason to have any other thoughts at the minute.”