Leeds Rhinos: Briscoe determined to rip into next season

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LEEDS RHINOS winger Tom Briscoe says his high-profile gaffe against Catalan Dragons will make him a “better” player in 2015.

Desperately defending a 20-18 lead against Catalan Dragons in September’s Super League play-off elimination tie, the England star – usually one of the safest players around – inexplicably dropped a pass on his own line.

Tom Briscoe

Tom Briscoe

Sam Williams duly snaffled the gift to dive over and not only give Catalan their first-ever win at a silenced Headingley but inflict Leeds’ sixth successive defeat and leave the recently crowned Challenge Cup victors visibly stunned.

For Briscoe, who had scored 13 tries in 31 games during his debut season after switching from Hull FC, it was certainly a sobering moment in his career.

However, the 24 year-old says here has been no lasting negative effect and rather he has used the uncharacteristic lapse as a motivation for next season.

“Obviously, I was very disappointed that it came down to that,” he recalled.

“Clearly, it was a massive error and the result followed. But I think during that match we did enough as a team to not win the game.

“I didn’t take it too personally to heart; you move on and become a better player and stronger player from those experiences.”

On that last note, Leeds supporters can literally expect to see a stronger Briscoe when their new season starts in February.

Already a powerful runner of the ball, he admits he has sought to add some extra bulk to his physique for 2015 to make him an even more formidable attacker.

One of the reasons he has been able to do that, has been the rarity of a full pre-season.

Briscoe lost his place in the England Four Nations squad this autumn – it would be no surprise to quickly see him rediscover it – so instead of the five week tour of Australia and New Zealand he was able to rest and then throw himself into training.

“I wasn’t surprised really,” he said, in response to whether being omitted from a national squad for the first time since debuting in 2009 had come as a shock.

“It’s just one of those things. You can’t get picked every year and I’ve enjoyed doing pre-season and enjoyed the rest.

“It’s been good for me to miss this year.

“I’ve played for the last four or five with England and not got a proper rest or pre-season under my belt during that time.

“Obviously coming to a new club last year I didn’t get much time to settle in; I was back in January after the World Cup and straight into the games come February time.

“So to get a full pre-season in from November is great while getting that bit of fitness and putting a bit of weight on is all going to be beneficial during the season and in games to come.

“Come season time it will definitely show its benefits.

“I feel fitter and stronger than I did coming into the season last year.”

That said, Briscoe did score a hat-trick on his dream Leeds debut last season as they won at Hull KR and also crossed in their Challenge Cup final victory at Wembley so supporters can rightly expect plenty come 2015.

Adding the Super League title to his honours will be upper most in his thoughts, though he insisted: “I just want to keep improving really and keep settling into the systems we have here at Leeds.

“There’s no real goals set for anything to do with the club as such just for me personally to keep playing consistently and keep improving here at Rhinos.

“It’s my second season and hopefully I’ll show some promise.

“People aren’t really talking about us much next year but I suppose flying under the radar puts less pressure on us.”