Featherstone versus Leeds pits Briscoe brother Luke and Tom against each other. Here, they answer Dave Craven’s questions.
PART-TIMERS Featherstone Rovers against reigning Super League champions Leeds Rhinos in today’s televised Qualifiers opener is intriguing enough.
However, for the Briscoe family, the first meeting between the West Yorkshire rivals in 16 years, has far more added meaning.
Both Tom and Luke Briscoe play for Leeds but Luke, the younger sibling at 22, will wear Featherstone Rovers colours today, just as he has done three times this campaign, having joined Jon Sharp’s side on loan.
Given he will play on the left wing for the Championship club as they seek to cause an almighty upset, he will be in direct opposition to Tom, the England winger who features on the right for last season’s star-studded treble-winners who now, bizarrely, are under the threat of relegation.
Furthermore, the brothers actually hail from Featherstone, Luke still living with his parents just five minutes away from Rovers’ Post Office Road ground, which is set to be close to a 7,000-capacity this afternoon for the most enticing contest of the weekend.
Talking together with The Yorkshire Post, the duo set the scene:
What was it like finding out that Leeds would let you play for Featherstone and against your brother?
Luke Briscoe: It was a bit of a shock, to be fair. I’ve played with him before but not against him.We should be straight opposite each other as well so it’ll be good to battle to see who out comes strongest. It’s a lifetime goal to play against Tom.
How was training during the week with Leeds and then knowing you’ll be playing against them?
LB: Well, I’ve been barred this week from Leeds! We (Jordan Baldwinson and Josh Walters are also on loan at Featherstone) are not allowed in. They’re planning game plans against us and it’d be a bit awkward for them doing that with us sat right next to them. They just told us to stay with Fev this week and go from there.
What have the parents said about it all?
LB: Not much at the minute. They’ll love it, though. Obviously they like us playing in the same team but it’s a battle against each other now.
Tom Briscoe: Obviously being from Featherstone, I think my dad would actually like to see them win and, more importantly, get into Super League.
That would be great for the club and the town. He is a massive rugby fan. But they’re in a win-win situation; one of us will be coming out on top so they’ll be happy.
What will your mum be saying on Saturday?
TB: Take it easy!
LB: Look after each other!
Have you memories of coming down here as a kid?
LB: I didn’t watch Fev much, to be fair. I just watched most of it on the telly, not too much live, but my dad used to come down regularly.
TB: I did come to watch as a young lad. I’m excited by this. Not only to be up against Luke but, as a local lad, to playing down here and the prospect of walking out here at a packed stadium is great.
Did you ever think you would end up playing at Featherstone?
TB: No, I didn’t. From amateur at 16 I went straight to Hull FC and never got a chance to play for Featherstone. Then going to Leeds, and with where Fev were in the Championship, it was never something I thought would happen.
I think Leeds have played a few times in friendlies but I’ve never played at Post Office Road since some cup finals in my amateur days and nothing in a competitive game like this weekend.
I was on the scholarship as a kid. Jamie Cording was, too, and he plays first-team for Fev now but is injured on Saturday. Keale Carlile and Liam Watts were both on scholarship with me as well but they went to Castleford.
As a town, Featherstone folk love their rugby league don’t they?
LB: Oh, yes. It will be packed out down here on Saturday. Featherstone itself – the town centre – will be empty and they’ll all be in her cheering on Fev. It should be a good atmosphere.
How important is it for Leeds to get a win and avoid this potential banana skin?
TB: Very. I think that’s the potential in all these games. The way our season’s gone’s not been ideal and being in these Qualifiers is something I suppose was a bit unexpected for everyone involved.
But we knew a couple of weeks ago we’d be playing in them and have had a couple of weeks now to prepare for that.
We had a weekend off last week to prolong the preparations for this seven-game series to secure our place back in Super League.
What were you like as kids...Luke’s four years younger so was he the annoying little brother or were you always quite close?
TB: No, my dad played so we always went down to Fev Lions to watch him and messed about there… ball-boying and kicking the ball about. I suppose we always got on and were there together whatever we did.
What was it like to play in the 20-0 win against Bradford Bulls that saw Featherstone earn fourth spot and a place in these Qualifiers?
LB: It was a massive result for us. It was a big game, with a big crowd. It was packed out here and the atmosphere was great.
To get the win and reach the Middle Eights was unbelievable. Hopefully, I’ll put in a performance on Saturday and get the win.