LEEDS RHINOS’ former Hull winger Tom Briscoe reckons his old club are a different proposition this season.
Hull finished 11th in First Utility Super League last year, but Briscoe believes they could be on track for a top-eight spot in 2015.
And he reckons Rhinos will need to be at or near their best if they are to make it four wins from four – and go top of the table – when they face Hull at KC Stadium tomorrow night.
Briscoe, who scored 90 tries in 147 appearances for Hull before joining Rhinos at the end of the 2013 campaign, said: “They’ve made a great start.
“They pushed Warrington close and did a job away at Huddersfield, which was a great win for them. They’ll be disappointed with Saturday’s result (a 32-28 defeat at Salford Red Devils), but it will be another tough game for us. These games keep rolling on and hopefully we can keep getting the wins.”
Winger Tom Lineham was among Hull’s try scorers at Salford and Briscoe thinks the youngster, who scored 17 tries in 25 appearances two years ago, is getting back to his best after a difficult 2014 campaign.
“The more he plays and the more experience he gets within Super League the better he will become,” Briscoe predicted.
“He’s a big lad, very strong and fast and so the more knowledge he’ll get about the game, the more he’ll improve.”
Lineham will be a threat to Rhinos tomorrow, if Hull’s half-backs can ensure he sees plenty of the ball.
The black and whites’ new combination of Leon Pryce and Marc Sneyd have been credited with sparking Hull’s improved performances so far this year and Briscoe said Leeds will need to keep them in check.
“Over the past few years they (Hull) have really struggled with halves and combinations,” said Briscoe, who has scored in Rhinos’ three games so far. “There’s been a lot of players go through the club when I was there certainly. Only time will tell, obviously, but the opening couple of games they have improved and like any new players joining a new side, the more they play together the more they will improve.”
From Leeds’ point of view, tomorrow is a crucial game in what could be a season-defining period for Brian McDermott’s side.
Rhinos recorded their first win over Huddersfield Giants in eight attempts six days ago at the start of a run of five successive games against teams who beat them last term. After tomorrow they face Warrington Wolves (away), Wigan Warriors (home) and Catalans Dragons (away) before Easter derbies against Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and with Super League set to split after 23 rounds, Briscoe admitted every point is precious.
“With the new system the start to the season is crucial,” Briscoe said.
“Going four from four would be massive and hopefully we can do that and really kick on.
“We’ve a lot to improve on, but at the end of the day we are three from three now and we couldn’t have done much better.”