Former international and now retired Super League player Shaun Briscoe is well-known to both Hull FC and Hull KR as a hard-running fullback with a very safe pair of hands and dependable last line of defence.
One of Super League’s top 10 fullbacks, Hull FC caused an sensation when they signed him from Wigan early in his career as he was trying to wrestle the number one shirt from fellow Lancastrian and GB fullback Kris Radlinski who was seemingly immovable from his place at the Warriors.
We caught up with Shaun and got his thoughts on his time at Hull FC and his illness that caused him to miss the Challenge Cup win in 2005.
FH: When you signed for Hull, you were one of the top fullbacks in the game at a top club, why the move over the Pennines?
SB: It was going to be difficult at Wigan to shift Kris Radlinski out of that number 1 shirt and I knew my chances would be limited. I wanted to play regularly and Sean and John offered me that opportunity with Hull. I spoke with Widnes and Salford also at the time but was only really one option for me.
FH: A lot has been said about your illness during the Challenge Cup final week. What advice could you give to Motu Tony and Nathan Blacklock as they prepared to share that role?
SB: None! Two reasons really; I only fell ill the morning we left for Cardiff and at first thought it was some kind of bug so was put in isolation to make sure I didn’t pass it on to the other lads.
Once at the hotel I never saw anyone other than the physio until the Friday morning. As I left for Cardiff Hospital, the lads went to the team run. If I had known I wasn’t playing I don’t think I would have needed to say anything to either Nathan or Motu. They are both great players with a wealth of experience so would have just left them to do what they did best.
FH: During your years at Hull FC, you built the reliability tag and your release to Hull KR was seen as a shock. What did you feel at the time?
SB: I loved my time at Hull FC probably more the first two or three years than the last. My last year was difficult but for a few different reasons. I thought Peter was a great coach and really respected what he had achieved in the game but we just didn’t really see eye to eye which was a big one but when one door closed another opened.
I spoke to Justin Morgan [the then Hull KR head coach] and he made me feel wanted and told me the plans they had and the recruitment they made already. Having a coach who wanted me there was a big thing for me.
FH: Current Hull FC fullback Jamie Shaul is seen as international material now. How does he compare to your contemporaries like Paul Wellens, Kris Radlinski and the great Steve Prescott?
SB: Jamie has one essential skill in abundance and that’s speed. This is a real asset and something you can’t teach. I think his positional play and defensive work are getting better year on year and the more he plays the more he will understand and anticipate what is going to happen before it does. He has a lot of ability and the sky’s the limit if he wants it.
FH: If you were to coach in Super League, which club would you take on?
SB: As a Wigan lad, I’m very proud of where I come from and probably makes this easy to answer. I was sad to leave my club as a player but if I had my pick it would be Wigan. I don’t really have any ambition to coach at a performance level so think Waney’s job is safe!”
FH: How well will Hull KR do in the Championship and who will be their main rivals and could stop their promotion?
SB: I think with the squad and staff they have in place they should win it relatively easily. Complacency is the only thing that will stop them. I think Featherstone and the London Broncos will offer some resistance but not much.
FH: Who are the players to watch in the current Hull and Rovers sides?
SB: For FC – obviously Jamie Shaul from a full back bias but I think Wattsy was unlucky not to make the England side last year so a big year from him. For Hull KR – unfortunately Matty Marsh is injured or he would have been my one to watch. He’s a fantastic player with a great attitude and skill set. I think Adam Quinlan will be pivotal for them this year