Briscoe backs Exiles return

Leeds Rhinos winger Tom Briscoe says a suggested return for the England v Exiles fixture could be a massive boost to the national team’s preparations for the 2021 World Cup on home soil. 

Briscoe, who is set to return from a knee injury after lockdown, played for England against the Exiles in the inaugural game in 2011 at Emerald Headingley and scored in the 2012 fixture at Huddersfield and says a revival could produce an even better contests given the calibre of overseas players in Super League now. With Sonny Bill Williams and James Maloney having joined the competition this season and Greg Inglis set to arrive in 2021, Briscoe is excited by the idea. 

The 30-year-old commented, “I think it is a good idea. Getting to pull on the England shirt is always a great and proud moment so to give players the opportunity to play a game like this is important. The quality of overseas players is outstanding at the moment; to play against that quality of team would be great preparations for the England squad. They were tough games so I have no doubt it would be ideal from a performance side but, for it to succeed as a spectacle, we need more buy in from everyone else. There are obviously going to be challenges moving around in the next year but this would be ideal as everyone is already here in England.  

“The signings over the last few seasons in Super League have been great, you only need to look at the quality we have got at the Rhinos, and with Greg Inglis already coming over  next season and others, there are now some top names in our competition. That first Exiles team was top class but I think a new one could be the equal or even better. It would certainly be a worthwhile test for the squad.” 

Briscoe has been putting his time to good use during lockdown. With a young family, he has been fitting in some home training around home schooling and completed his Sport and Exercise Science degree with Leeds Beckett University and is expecting top marks. He admits his university work has given him a great deal of satisfaction, “I have been enjoying the chance to spend time with my young family and make the most of that experience. I handed in my last assignment last week and it has been six years of tough graft, fitting in my uni work around training and the family. It has meant some long evenings to get the work done when the kids have gone to bed to make sure I made all my deadlines but I am proud to have achieved it and stuck to it. The graduation has been postponed until further notice but they have said we will get a certificate with our results. I am hoping to get a first and just needed to pass my last assignment to get that. It has been hard work but I have tried my hardest and thankfully it has paid off. I have managed to keep my grades above 70% and that would be a great achievement to get a first.”

On the field, Briscoe was hoping to pass another important examination just as the lockdown came into force. He was due to make his first appearance since suffering an ACL injury at Huddersfield at the start of August but has been forced, like the rest of the country, to play a waiting game before the action returns. He added, “The week I was due to make my comeback was the week we went into lockdown so the timing could have been better. I have been trying to maintain the standard I was at.

“The training I have been able to do is limited and obviously not as good as if we were in training at the club but I was ready to play so I didn’t need physio work, so that was a bonus. The other advantage is that I have had a couple of extra months to make sure my knee is properly healed, I was coming back on the quicker side of things so a few weeks extra will not do any harm,” added Briscoe.