Leeds Rhinos: Briscoe backing himself to reclaim England place

Tom Briscoe scoring against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
Tom Briscoe scoring against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
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TOM BRISCOE hopes history repeats itself and he can return from injury to find prolific form for Leeds Rhinos this term – but this time force his way into the England squad, too.

The winger missed much of last season through injury but was fit in time for their last dozen matches and shone as Leeds went on to win the treble.

He memorably scored a record-breaking five tries in the Challenge Cup final win over Hull KR, featured in the Grand Final victory over Wigan Warriors and finished with 15 tries in just 17 games.

It was not enough to secure an international recall as then England boss Steve McNamara called up Wigan Warriors’ Joe Burgess and Huddersfield Giants winger Jermaine McGillvary for the Test series against New Zealand.

However, having missed the last three months of this season due to shoulder surgery, Briscoe is nearing his latest return – and hopes to fire all the way into new England coach Wayne Bennett’s Four Nations squad.

Leeds had hoped to see the ex-Hull FC wideman fit in time for Sunday’s visit of Widnes Vikings.

But his comeback is likely to be at his former club next Friday as he told the YEP: “I think this week will be a bit too soon.

“I’ve been in training at the start of this week and it’s gone well, as good as it can be at this stage, but I’ll ease my way back in. Hopefully if everything progresses okay and I start doing contact work I should be back in the next couple of weeks.

“Over the last two years I’ve only played about 20 games and not been the most consistent.

“I’ve had just four matches this year so it is a bit disappointing not to be playing more.

“Last year I came in and had a strong finish.

“Unfortunately it was not good enough for England but I’ll be doing everything I can now to be playing well, for Leeds first and foremost, but with an eye for trying to get back in that England team as well.”

Briscoe, 25, won the last of his 15 caps during the 2013 World Cup but, despite being sidelined, was invited to Bennett’s first squad get-together recently when 31 players congregated to meet the veteran Australian coach.

“I suppose it’s a bit of a confidence-booster to see the England set-up is still looking at me,” he admitted, considering that his last game was the Easter Monday loss to Wakefield Trinity. “I think there’s 11 games left so there’s still a few to go and, hopefully, I’ll get some form and push my name forward.”

When he does return this time, however, it will be vastly different to 12 months ago.

Leeds are now bottom of Super League, out of the Challenge Cup and, though they might face Hull KR again in August, it won’t be at Wembley but more likely in the Qualifiers.

Featherstone-born Briscoe just wants to play, though.

“It’s been very frustrating as I think after last year I thought I’d cracked it,” said the wideman, who joined from Hull ahead of the 2014 campaign.

“I had a good pre-season but two games in injured my ankle then played the Easter games and had to have a shoulder op so it’s been a tough year.

“But with a few weeks to go the light (at the end of the tunnel) is definitely in sight.”