Australians on red alert as Briscoe eyes England start

AS he prepares for a fierce battle to win back his cherished England jersey, Hull FC winger Tom Briscoe admits he could be the next international to head Down Under.

England colleague Gareth Hock, the robust Wigan Warriors second-row, is in talks over a possible move to Parramatta Eels and there are a growing band of this nation’s finest now operating in Australia.

Briscoe – who hopes to reclaim a place in the England side against France tomorrow after missing out against Wales – is entering the final year of his contract at the 
KC Stadium.

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Given his explosive style and finishing prowess, that has put a host of Australian clubs on red alert.

With a salary cap more than double Super League’s £1.65m, and the Australian dollar so strong against the pound, the NRL is in a commanding position when it comes to attracting England’s best talent.

Briscoe, 22, told the Yorkshire Post: “It is looking that way (more players leaving). It’s an attractive opportunity to go play out there and not just financially – that isn’t one of the things I’d be looking at.

“It’d be more to improve and have a different experience of lifestyle as well.

“I would like to do it but I’ve got a year left at Hull and not had any talks or anything yet so I’ll concentrate on this year and see where it leads me.”

Firstly, Briscoe knows he has to concentrate on taking any chance he might get in this current England team.

He played in all of the Four Nations games 12 months ago and seemed to have firmly established himself at the highest level.

However, Wigan’s Josh Charnley enjoyed a prolific campaign in which he finished as Super League’s top try-scorer on 31, forcing his way into the reckoning.

With Leeds Rhinos’ Ryan Hall secure as the world’s best winger on the left, there is now a two-way fight for the right-side berth.

Charnley got his chance in the two mid-summer Exiles games and retained his place last weekend, scoring four tries on his full debut in the 80-12 win over Wales.

Did it come as a surprise to Briscoe that he had to make way?

“I wouldn’t say surprised,” he insisted.

“It is just one of those things. I knew he (coach Steve McNamara) had to give us all a chance and, unfortunately, it was me last week (who missed out).

“Hopefully, I’ll get that shot this Saturday and show what I can do to get a spot in next week’s final, but this competition’s been great for the team and the country.

“Hopefully, we’ll bring the best out of each other and make the team’s overall performances better.”

Indeed, with Hall’s brace against Wales seeing him climb into the top 10 of England try-scorers, Charnley immediately showing his class and Briscoe primed to deliver, McNamara is certainly well-served ahead of the 2013 World Cup.

He may yet decide on resting Hall tomorrow ahead of next Sunday’s autumn international series final against France, as he did for the second Exiles game.

Also, Briscoe, who scored 17 Super League tries for Hull this season, has bounced back from previous setbacks on the international scene.

In 2009, as a teenager facing the mighty Australia in only his second England game, he was horribly exposed and hauled off at half-time by then coach Tony Smith before being dropped for the rest of the Four Nations.

Such a sobering experience could have broken lesser men, but Briscoe demonstrated great character to respond in the right manner and once more prove his credentials at the elite level.

He now has 12 caps to his name and has scored four tries in his last three games against France alone.

If selected for the fixture at Hull KR’s Craven Park, the Featherstone-born wideman fully realises Les Bleus will offer a much sterner test than the callow Welsh, especially considering their significant Catalan representation.

“Catalan have been improving and showed this season how good a team they are,” he added.

“France include a lot of that side and good players from throughout France as well. It’ll be a tough challenge; they are a very physical team and we’re just looking forward to the challenge.”

If Leeds’s Jamie Jones-Buchanan gets the nod from McNamara, the second-row will make his 300th career appearance tomorrow as France aim to halt a run of 13 consecutive defeats by England going back to a 5-1 victory at Headingley in February, 1981.

Meanwhile, McNamara has opened today’s final Craven Park training session to the public with fans able to watch the England squad in action from 10am and meet them afterwards.

Ben Cooper, who was suspended by UK Anti-Doping for his part in the Martin Gleeson drugs case at Hull, has been appointed as Castleford’s new strength and conditioning coach.

Cooper, an ex-Huddersfield player, was given a two-year ban, half of which was suspended, last December for conspiring with Gleeson to cover the circumstances surrounding the ex-Great Britain centre’s positive test for the stimulant methylhexanaemine.

The suspension was backdated to June, 2011, the date of the original incident.

Hull chief executive James Rule was also banned for his part in the affair but returned to the game in September as Widnes Vikings’ new chief executive.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ player of the year, Australian scrum-half Tim Smith, has extended his contract until the end of 2014.