Leeds Rhinos: Rotation is a key cog in long-term strategy – Briscoe

Tom Briscoe.
Tom Briscoe.
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ENGLAND WINGER Tom Briscoe believes resting players is the right thing to do as Leeds Rhinos aim to have a fit and fresh squad for the business end of the season.

Briscoe was left out of the team which beat London Broncos a week ago, but is hoping to be recalled for tonight’s crunch trip to First Utility Super League leaders St Helens.

“I had a rest last week and I am looking to do everything I can to get back,” Briscoe said.

“I knew coming to this club there was competition for places.

“It is just one of those things that happens in a squad that’s got good depth.

“I think coming towards the end of the season we will definitely be reaping the benefits of being able to rest a few players here and there and hopefully we will be able to push on in the play-offs.

“Obviously it is disappointing to miss out.

“I don’t think any of the players want to be missing any weeks, but at the end of the day it is good for the squad and that’s what Brian (coach Brian McDermott) wants to do.

“You have just got to take it on the chin and bounce back in training and show that you have no hard feelings about it and show how much you want to be back in the team the following week.”

Briscoe scored a hat-trick on his debut away to Hull KR and a try in each of the next two matches.

Fellow winger Ryan Hall also has a nap hand following his treble against London and Kallum Watkins, Zak Hardaker and Ben Jones-Bishop have crossed four times.

Joel Moon, who could return tonight after a hamstring problem, has two tries to his name, meaning Leeds’ three-quarters and full-back have scored 24 tries between them in six matches – out of a total of 35.

“It’s good for the club,” Briscoe said.

“It is showing the strength we have got in the outside-backs, but obviously the forwards lay the platform for the backs and the halves to play off.

“I think that has been going well in every game.

“They’ve been creating quick play-the-balls and opportunities for us backs to play off and to make us look good.”

Tonight’s game is the biggest challenge of the season for both sides.

Leaders Saints have won all six so far and are a point clear of Leeds, in third, who are the only other unbeaten team in the competition.

“It’s two of the form sides coming into this game and the top two {going into this round].” Briscoe said.

“I am sure for the spectators it’ll be very entertaining. Both teams have very good attack and both defences have been really strong. I think it’ll be a really tight and tough game.”

Saints will be without three players due to suspension and also have some top names on the injury list, but Briscoe insisted: “You can’t look at that. They have got good players in their squad who can come in and have trained all pre-season waiting for an opportunity.

“They will be giving it their all to keep their spot for the following weeks.”

Like Leeds, Saints boast an exciting, young and mainly-British back division and Briscoe added: “That’s great, it is good for the game and England rugby league.

“The more that can develop, not just in the backs but in the forwards as well, the better our international side will be. Saints’ backs have done really well this year and I think throughout Super League there’s a lot of young, exciting English players.

“It is great for the game, it is great to see more and more coming through. It shows the youth system the clubs and RFL have put in place is working.”

Four of Leeds’ outside-backs set to be on duty last year were involved in England’s World Cup squad and several of their likely opponents are being tipped as future international players.

Briscoe said: “Competition at your own club keeps you on your toes.

“But looking at the wider picture and the end of the season obviously there will be good competition for those spots in the England team.

“At the end of the day that’s what all players want to do, play for their country. Everybody will be having an eye on that come the end of the season, but for now we’ve just got to concentrate on playing well for the club and leave everything else until later in the year.

St Helens from: Lomax, Makinson, Jones, Swift, Hohaia, Masoe, Roby, Soliola, Laffranchi, Flanagan, Wellens, Percival, Greenwood, Wheeler, Walker, Dawson, Richards, Charnock, Savelio.

Leeds Rhinos from: Hardaker, Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Aiton, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Sinfield, Ward, Delaney, Kirke, Achurch, Briscoe, Singleton.

Referee: Richard Silverwood (Mirfield).

Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.

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