Tom Briscoe hopes he can pile more Challenge Cup final heartache on to Hull KR to round off a fantastic return to the big time for Leigh.
Hull KR’s only visit to the Wembley showpiece in this century ended in dismal fashion as they were routed 50-0 by Leeds in 2015, when Briscoe scored a record five tries to capture the Lance Todd Trophy.
While the Robins have another bite at the cherry on Saturday, they will once again have to contend with Briscoe, the ex-England wing who swapped the Rhinos for newly-promoted Leigh at the end of last season.
Briscoe has fond, if hazy, recollections of what happened in London eight years ago but is certain Hull KR will be a tougher test this time for Leigh, who are bidding for their first cup triumph since 1971.
“That 2015 final is probably the highlight of my career,” Briscoe told the PA news agency. “It’s always a special time to look back on and hopefully I can recreate some of that this weekend.
“When you’re in the moment it’s hard to take it all in, I’ve only got little snippets of what happened. It wasn’t until after that I realised that was the record.
“My lasting memory from that game will be when I went over for my last try and everyone just piled on under the sticks, that’s what will live on in my memory.
“But we’re expecting the best of Hull KR now. They have special players that can do incredible things from nothing. We know we’re in for a tough day and we’ve got to show them that full respect.”
Promotion from the Championship last season was Leigh’s fourth in the Super League era but they were immediately relegated back to the second tier on the three previous occasions in 2005, 2017 and 2021.
A change of name – from the Centurions to the Leopards – and the signings of several marquee players including Briscoe has brought a change in fortunes for Leigh, who are currently third in Super League.
It is their overall form in the league and cup – where Leigh defeated 2022 Grand Final winners St Helens in the semi-finals – that heartens Briscoe and not doing the double over Hull KR this year.
“You can never take that for granted,” he said. “I’ve been there in the past and beaten teams who have beaten us many times in the league.
“We’ll take the confidence from our form in the Super League and the way we were able to get past Saints in the semis. To get through that is obviously a massive confidence booster.
“But we’ve been doing that all season, the level we’ve been playing at and the intensity has been high. We’ll take a lot of confidence from that and the experiences from previous years in all the players.
“Getting newly-promoted, it’s a tough ask to come up and challenge but the squad that’s been put together is obviously a strong one and we’re living up to the potential we’ve got.”
Leigh have not reached the cup final since going all the way 52 years ago and Briscoe wants to give the club’s long-suffering fans something to cheer.
“It would mean a lot, it’s obviously a special occasion for the club,” he added. “To come into a newly-promoted team and achieve that in my first season would be pretty special.
“It’s been 50-odd years since Leigh last won it so to even get to the final is special for the town and hopefully we can go one more.”