Tom Briscoe shares insight into PHD course as winger ready for big Hull FC responsibility

Tom Briscoe made his second Hull FC debut at Warrington.
Tom Briscoe made his second Hull FC debut at Warrington. -Credit:Dave Lofthouse, Hull FC

Tom Briscoe has played over 400 games in his rugby league career, but it isn't just his fellow Hull FC teammates that he's hoping to pass that experience on to. The winger is back where it all started, having signed an 18-month contract with the Black and Whites, but he's also studying for a PHD alongside his playing commitments.

The 34-year-old studies at Leeds Beckett University, looking at the physical characteristics of young female players to improve pathways and help drive standards in the women's game. It's something Briscoe is very passionate about, with the winger, in partnership with the RFL, holding an inaugural development and testing weekend over May 25–26.

Conducting research on players aged 12–18, the development day will involve testing on strength, power, fitness, and speed, with a rugby league training session to boot. Briscoe, who is considering becoming a sport's science lecturer or going into strength and conditioning when he retires, said: "I'm looking into junior women's rugby and looking at the physical characteristics of them, seeing if they're prepared for moving up in age groups, and making sure that they're fully prepared for Super League.

"Physically, there's a lot around injuries at the moment, and hopefully we can just drive a bit of research into the junior setup to make sure it's running efficiently and doing the best for the girls to lead them into success."

Briscoe continued: "It's game-wide. We're looking at under 12s to under 18s, getting coaches opinions as well as the players. There's a couple of surveys out there now looking at potential ways of improving the pathway, just to try and drive the standards and professionalism for the girls to set up them in every possible way to succeed."

The women's game has grown rapidly in recent years, not only with increased coverage but also financially, with the likes of York Valkyrie and St Helens now in positions to pay their players. Briscoe is fully behind that pathway, increasing its profile.

"It's good," he said. "It's always improving, and the publicity getting the games on television in Super League is great. I feel there's probably a long way to go in terms of facilities, staff, and funds as well, which is always a big issue, but it's going in the right direction. There's got some great people, and the RFL have supported me on this. It's all positive. I think the girls are getting a feel for where their route to success is and what it can be."

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Making a try-scoring return to Hull FC last Friday night, Briscoe, who debuted with the East Yorkshire club back in 2008 as a 17-year-old, is also hoping to have a big impact on the club's rising talents, with the likes of Lewis Martin making his mark in the first team this season.

He explained: "Coming through at 17, you've got no experience, and you're raw. You're just physically ready, I suppose, and then throughout the years you get that experience and knowledge of the game and what it's all about, what your job, is, and what everybody else's job is.

"I'm on the other side of that now, being able to guide and help the younger players. Hopefully, I can do that by coming here. There's a young and good squad, and I'm hoping to bring some of that into the first team."

For those who vividly remember Briscoe's first spell at Hull FC, the memory bank will light up with the winger running down the left touchline. However, the veteran now finds himself on the right flank, something he did at Leeds Rhinos and at Leigh Leopards, and on his second debut last Friday night.

"I've got no preference for what side I play," Briscoe said. "I played six years at Hull on the left but then moved to the right. For the majority of my time at Leeds, I played on the right. I had a year on the left, but I'm easy. It's kind of the same job wherever you play; just things get reversed."

And as for tries, with Briscoe gliding over after Jake Trueman's pass at Warrington, the winger is hoping there's a few more to come after his 91st effort for the club. "I scored a few at Leigh last year, so given the opportunity, I'm confident I can finish tries, but that comes on the back of the team," he added. "I just get given the ball and put it down, but it's something I'm looking forward to, and hopefully, I've got a few more to come."

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