TOM BRISCOE believes Leeds Rhinos are still yet to see the best of him and he is now mentally stronger in readiness for 2018.
The ex-England winger seems to have been around for an eternity yet is still only 27.
Admittedly, he made an early start in the professional game, making his debut with Hull FC aged just 17 and representing his country soon after before joining Rhinos at the end of 2013.
Briscoe won his second Grand Final with the club in October and believes there is more to come from not only the side but on a personal front, too.
“I’d like to think so definitely,” he said. “I’d like to think I’m coming into my best years.
“Obviously I had a lot of success early in my career with regards to England and then, since coming to Leeds, with silverware. I suppose I want to put all that experience together and bid to become a better player from that.
I want to stay injury-free, try to be a bit more consistent in my performances and build on how I finished last season rather than the roller-coaster that was last year.Leeds Rhinos’ Tom Briscoe
“Last season I played all but one game so after the previous two years where I was out for three or four months with injuries it was nice to get some games together.
“Now I just want to stay injury-free, try to be a bit more consistent in my performances and build on how I finished last season rather than the roller-coaster that was last year.
“Towards the end of the year I was happy but there were a couple of games where I wasn’t at my best. They were well-documented from the press.
“But in 2018 I just want to be up there with the better performers in the team, trying to do what I do best and help the team going forward.”
Briscoe, of course, is referring to that much-publicised nightmare performance in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final when he failed to deal with a raft of testing kicks from former club Hull and Leeds eventually missed out on Wembley.
Nevertheless, backed by coach Brian McDermott, he demonstrated true character to bounce back and rediscover his finest, proving his worth as Rhinos charged to another Grand Final glory upsetting favourites Castleford Tigers at Old Trafford.
Briscoe, with his power and pace, played a big part in the West Yorkshire club claiming the Super League crown just as they had done in 2015.
Indeed, Leeds won seven of their next nine games after that Challenge Cup semi-final loss.
Asked how he has attempted to prevent such error-ridden displays occurring since, Briscoe said: “I think a lot of it is the mental side of the game.
“Obviously it was bad game but you have to put that to bed; you can’t keep dwelling on that.
“And coming towards the end of the season I got back to where I was.
“It was more about putting things to the side and getting on with things, getting my head down in training doing what I do and hoping it all came back together.
“Thankfully it did.”
As he is getting older, there will be the inevitable talk about a positional switch potentially in the future.
Featherstone-born Briscoe, who finished with 11 tries in 34 games last term, said: “It’s not been discussed yet.
“I’d like to think as long as I can do a job on the wing then that is my position. I’ll stay there as long as I can.
“Obviously if the time comes where I need to move inside or he (McDermott) thinks I can do a better job at centre I will.
“Maybe not back-row – that might be a bit too far so I’ll stay out of the pack! – but definitely I’d be happy to step into that centre role if ever needed,” explained Briscoe.
“I was always a centre as a kid and my first year when I started at Hull I was playing in that position.
“The following season I even got the centre number three jersey – but started on the wing and have just been on the wing ever since!
“Back then, I think Sid Domic had just left but we had people like Graeme Horne and Craig Hall, too, and wing just got put onto me really.”
Given fellow Leeds winger Ryan Hall has just turned 30 and is in better shape than ever, helping England to the World Cup final in Australia, there is no reason to think that switch will happen any time soon.