Hull Kingston Rovers half-back Ryan Brierley has opened up on why he opted to leave Castleford for Leigh early on in his career, while also revealing he turned down the chance to join Wigan.
Brierley was speaking on the Taylor Talks Podcast about his career path to date, with the Preston-born playmaker explaining his unconventional route into the game.
“All my friends at Hindley had been signed by Wigan and I went back to Westhoughton Lions for the under 17’s season with Matty Peet, who is now a coach at Wigan,” Brierley recounted.
“After that year I compiled a load of DVDs what I had together from one of the lads’ parents and sent them to every club in Super League, Championship and League One.
“Castleford Tigers were the only ones to reply and they told me that they would like me to come up and train for a little bit, and then they offered me a pay-as-you-play deal.
“It was something like £30 a win, it wasn’t much. I was made up but a lot of the sacrifice fell on my dad who had to drive me there and back after work, which must have been tough for him.”
There would be another twist to Brierley’s youth career when he was presented with the chance to rejoin his mates at Wigan, but he made a choice few others would have done at the time.
“It got to about January and I was ready to play my first friendly for Castleford Tigers,” he recalled. “Matty Peet, my coach at Westhoughton Lions, had recommended some players to Wigan.
“He recommended me and I remember having a chat with John Pendlebury and he wanted me to sign for Wigan on the same deal, a pay-as-you-play type deal.
“My dad’s eyes lit up at this point, obviously 10 minutes down the road, it’s Wigan Warriors, the biggest team in Super League at the time, and I just said no.
“I felt as if Castleford had given me the chance originally, they offered me the deal first, and I felt I was wanted a little bit more at Castleford and I stayed loyal to them.”
After only a few games, Brierley was offered an improved two-year deal with the Tigers academy before progressing to full-time training in 2011.
Now on the cusp of the first team, changes at the top led to his next move and having to make another big decision that would shape his career.
“In the last year of my contract, Ian Millward left Leigh and went to Castleford and asked me if I wanted to go dual-reg with Leigh,” Brierley explained.
“I said 100 percent, it’s five minutes away from my house. My first year on dual-reg was 2012 and at the end of that year Castleford offered me a full-time contract on really good money.
“I think it was about £19,000, which was good for me. Then Paul Rowley, my coach at Leigh that year, offered me £6,000 and I stayed at Leigh.
“I just thought I enjoyed myself, the boys were brilliant, I was playing every week and it was just around the corner from me.
“It makes me laugh when people say I left for money. I actually turned down money to stay there in the first place.
“Leigh had given me the chance when Castleford didn’t want me. I proved myself at Leigh for that year and I just felt it wasn’t right for me to turn my back on them.”
You can listen to the full interview with Ryan Brierley on the Taylor Talks Podcast.