Leeds Rhinos: Briscoe relieved to finish on a high

Tom Briscoe
Tom Briscoe
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WINGER TOM BRISCOE insists Leeds Rhinos will be as motivated as tomorrow’s hosts Huddersfield Giants.

Rhinos have little to play for after securing their Super League status last week.

In contrast, Huddersfield are in relegation danger and need a win to stay in the hunt for third place on the Qualifiers table.

That would secure an automatic return to the top-flight next year, without having to go through the million pound game.

The teams finishing fourth and fifth will meet in a one-off shoot-out for the last Super League place, with the losers being relegated.

Jobs are on the line for Giants and fellow strugglers Hull KR and Salford Red Devils and Briscoe said: “It’s a different kind of build up for us to what they are going to be going through.

“There’s a lot of pressure being put on them in order to try and get that third spot and avoid the million pound game.

“But for us, we want to win every game and finish the season off on a high.

“I don’t think they will be more motivated than us, it is just a different motivation.

“We are wanting to keep that unbeaten record in these Qualifiers and we want that top spot.”

Briscoe feels finishing first in the middle-eights would salvage something from a disappointing year.

He said: “Obviously there’s no trophies lifted or cups won within the Qualifiers, but for us from where we were at the start of the season and in mid-season to finish the season off strongly would be good.

“We did well in the last few games in Super League as well and it will be good for us going into pre-season and looking ahead to next year.”

Rhinos’ squad are contracted for next year and the indication from the club is there will not be major changes in the off-season. Briscoe reckons the current squad is good enough to compete for a top-four place in First Utility Super League in 2017.

“I think the lessons we’ve learned mid-season have already proved beneficial, with what we are showing now and the run we are on at the minute,” he said.

“That can only benefit us going forward, the experiences and different pressures we have been under this year.

“We have had to fight for our survival and we’ve done a good job of that and we have beaten everyone who’s been put in front of us.”

Rhinos finished the regular season with wins over Hull, Wigan Warriors and Hull KR and have won their opening five games in the Qualifiers.

Three of those opponents have been from the Championship, but Briscoe reckons Leeds have proved they can compete with anyone when they get their game together.

“You can only play who’s in front of you,” he said.

“People can say what they want about [the quality of opposition], but two months unbeaten is a good record.

“From where we were mid-season to where we are now is a million miles apart. We are riding a bit of confidence.”

Asked to pinpoint the difference between now and the dark days of April and May, when Leeds suffered seven successive defeats, Briscoe said: “I think it’s a mixture of everything.

“We have got a few players back, key players in key positions.

“We changed a few things mid-season and also just being settled back in our training ground.”

The current hot streak coincided with Rhinos’ return to their Kirkstall base, which was devastated in last December’s floods.

“I think that has helped,” Briscoe said.

“It’s probably more of a coincidence, there is no magic formula there, but it is better to be settled and know where you are every day.

“You can plan ahead for the week, without having to be trying to figure out where we are going to be training and having to travel all over.”

Having been the last team to finish playing in 2015, Rhinos will be the first Super League club to enter the off-season this year.

Their home game against promoted Leigh Centurions, which has been brought forward to next Thursday, will bring the curtain down on a difficult season.

Will former Hull winger Briscoe be glad to see the end of Leeds’ worst campaign for 20 years?

He said: “For me, coming back from injury, I have enjoyed it.

“Obviously I have come back into a winning team

“We are not where we wanted to be, but we have been winning and it has got better.

“It was hard to watch during that mid-season lull when we could not buy a win.

“I think everyone has picked up and the atmosphere is obviously better because we are winning.”

Huddersfield Giants: from Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy, Brough, Ellis, Hinchcliffe, Huby, Symonds, Lawrence, Wood, Rapira, Ta’ai, Connor, Mason, Roberts, Brierley, Ikahihifo

Leeds Rhinos: from T Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, Burrow, Galloway, Cuthbertson, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Ward, Sutcliffe, Singleton, Keinhorst, Mullally, Handley, Golding, Lilley, Ferres, Segeyaro

Referee: Ben Thaler.

Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.