Next week Leeds meet Hull FC in a pre-season friendly which will no doubt shed some light on where both sides are as they plan for a big 2022.
But the game will have even more meaning to one Leeds star as the Rhinos take on Tom Briscoe’s former club in his testimonial game after a long and illustrious career which began at Hull FC in 2008.
Early in his career he found himself under the command of Richard Agar at Hull and is now working with Agar again at Leeds. The two even delivered Challenge Cup success to Headingley in 2020.
So, there’s perhaps no one better positioned to shine a light on the brilliance of Briscoe and just how underrated he has been at times in his career than the Rhinos Head Coach.
Briscoe, after all, is an England international and has played in a World Cup as well as a Four Nations Final. But his true success has come in a Leeds shirt. He’s registered nine tries in five major final appearances for the Rhinos including a record breaking five tries in Leeds’ 50-0 Wembley triumph over Hull KR in 2015.
No player in the Super League era has as many Challenge Cup wins to their name in a Leeds shirt than Briscoe who unsurprisingly claimed the Lance Todd Trophy in 2015. Ultimately, a key member of their treble winning side – go back and look at Leeds’ vital last three games of that season and you’ll see his value to the Rhinos – he should be regarded as a Headingley hero and next Sunday’s friendly against Hull FC is the perfect opportunity to put some focus on the fantastic exploits of Briscoe’s career.
In an interview on the Rhinos’ YouTube channel, coach Agar emphasised this as well noting the special bond he and Briscoe share: “I’ve had plenty to do with Tommy, been friends with the family from being a young kid.
“I’ve said this many times, when we signed him on at Hull FC we probably didn’t envisage that he would have such a rapid ascent as what he had. By the time he was 18 he’d played at Wembley and was a real star of the game.
“When we signed him on we knew he’d be a good player but I’d be fibbing if I said I knew his rise would be so meteoric.”
He also noted just how underrated he believes Briscoe is: “I think Tommy’s gone under the radar a bit when you look back at his career and the wonderful moments be it his try scoring record, his exploits, playing for his country, multiple titles and Challenge Cups but he’s done it in an unbelievable team so quite often the quality of his playing and his exploits have been overlooked.”
But ultimately, he wanted to draw attention to the longevity Briscoe has achieved at the top. Now reinvented as a centre after years as a top notch winger, Briscoe has scored twice in two friendlies this pre-season from the centre position.
Agar believes that it is his personality that has seen him last this long at the top: “The reason he’s had such a long and fruitful career has been his temperament and attitude.
“His temperament has very very rarely let him down over a long period of time and even though at 31 his physical attributes might be changing a bit, he’s reinvented himself as more of a centre rather than a winger.
“When you look back at Tom’s career it’s something young boys can only dream about and throughout his career he’s always been a role model for young players and an impeccable ambassador for the teams he’s played for.”