WATCH: Massive learning curve is embraced by Leeds Rhinos’ Tom Briscoe

NURSING the after-effects of major knee surgery means pre-season is a little different for Tom Briscoe this year but it does not mean the Leeds Rhinos winger isn’t still busy.

Approaching his 30th birthday, the ex-England star has already seen more pre-seasons than he cares to remember.

However, while most of his team-mates are in the thick of the grind building towards their first friendly against Wakefield Trinity on Boxing Day, he is working hard on his rehab after rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament in August.

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On top of that, Briscoe is also knuckling down with the final stages of a sports science degree which, he hopes, will help set up a new career once his decorated playing career is over.

PLANNING AHEAD: Leeds Rhinos' Tom Briscoe. Picture: Tony Johnson.

“The knee’s coming on well,” said the winger who had been ever-present in Super League last season until suffering the injury in the 44-0 win at Huddersfield Giants.

“I’m starting to progress into a bit more pliability-based stuff. I’ve done all the strength and hypertrophy work so am now working towards getting on the AlterG treadmill to start running again and then progressing to running on the field.

“We’re looking at around March, April (return). That will be around seven, eight months so fingers crossed it all keeps going well and I’ll be back by that time.

“Pre-season’s a bit different when it’s like this; it’s still as tough, trying to get back and push myself to get back fit and with the rest of the boys.

Leeds Rhinos' Tom Briscoe celebrates his try against Catalans Dragons in June this year. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

“But obviously seeing those guys running around and doing their fitness they are going through it at the minute.

“It’s just different ways. I’m still trying to progress - get stronger, fitter - but just in the ways that I can at the minute.”

Briscoe, who joined from Hull FC in 2014, is making those plans for life after rugby, too.

He has been studying part-time at Leeds Beckett University ever since arriving at Headingley and said: “Over the course of doing this degree - and it’s been six years - a few things have changed in terms of the direction I want to go in.

MAGIC MOMENT: Leeds Rhinos' Tom Briscoe is congratulated on scoring a try against Castleford in the 2017 Super League grand final at Old Trafford. Picture by Allan McKenzie/

“At the minute, I want to go down the teaching and lecturing route at uni. I’ll get this degree done - I’m in the last few months now - and see what the path is for the next step to pursue that. Sports physiology is what I want to teach. That’s what I did my dissertation in and Leeds Beckett have been great with me so far.

“You cover everything from biomechanics to nutrition, physiology, psychology - all the major areas you get a taste for and see what you like or don’t like. In your final year you get to choose which route you go down with your modules and just being practical and being at rugby it’s the most interesting aspect for me. I’ve really enjoyed that area of it.”

For some time now, Rhinos have encouraged their players to take further education or vocational courses and Briscoe says their support has been key.

He said: “Doing the course part-time has been massive. I don’t think I’d have been able to do it full-time; there’s too much work. It’s just a matter of blocking out some time to get things done and religiously sticking to it. By no means has it been easy but the work I’ve been able to put in has been to the best of my ability and I’ve managed to set aside enough time in order to do that as well.

“This is my sixth year. It sounds a lot longer than it feels. I remember halfway through thinking ‘God, I’ve still got another three to go!’ But looking back it’s flown and I’ve until May so it’s only a few months now.”

Next year is also the final year of his contract so 2020 is big in more ways than one. Briscoe, who has won two Grand Finals and two Challenge Cups in his time at Leeds, insists he has not contemplated those plans yet.

He said: “It’ll be when I get back playing, then I’ll start thinking about that. I’ll just focus on getting back fit first and foremost, then see where the club’s at and where I am with the injury.”