12 months ago, the world was at Ryan Brierley’s feet he had just landed his dream move into Super League and celebrated it with a hat-rick against the Wigan Warriors. Brierley had previously been playing his rugby with the Leigh Centurions and while there had notched an astonishing 133 tries in 125 appearances as Leigh became the leading force in the Championship. Brierley had previously been linked with a move to Leeds Rhinos and while this proved only to be speculation it had increased Ryan’s profile in the game especially after an impressive performance against the Rhinos in the Challenge Cup in 2014. A big fee brought Ryan to the top tier after expressing his desire to leave the Centurions after coach Paul Rowley left the club on the eve of the 2016 season. Brierley at the time believed he had a clause in his contract in which he could leave the club if Rowley left. Two months passed but Brierley joined Paul Anderson and the Giants on a four year deal.
But the dream wasn’t to last and with Paul Anderson being sacked and replaced by Australian Rick Stone, Brierley saw his opportunities limited although he helped secure the Giants place in Super League as he returned for the middle eights. This season had been a tough start with Brierley only featuring once after a damaging 30-0 defeat at his old side, the promoted Centurions.
Recently the half-back became a Scottish international with a try scoring debut against Australia in 2016 and made two appearances in their Four Nations campaign including coming off the bench in the Scot’s remarkable draw against New Zealand. Many had expected the young player to kick on and become one of Super League’s top talents but all that has now changed.
Last week Ryan rejoined his old coach Paul Rowley and dropped two divisions to League 1 to join the Toronto Wolfpack and made a try-scoring debut against Super League side Salford Red Devils in a narrow 29-22 defeat. While this was the Canadians first competitive defeat, it showed their ambition. Super League is the aim.
“Its been an easy transition, obviously joining up with my old coach again and many of the players have been at my previous clubs. Its been great seeing my friends again day in day out. Mine and Paul’s philosophies are very similar. Its great to finally enjoy Rugby League and going to work again, the last 12-18 months I haven’t done that and its been a real struggle.” Said Ryan on joining Rugby League’s newest professional side.
Many may look at the move in a negative way, dropping two divisions normally shows a lack of ambition but with the move to Wolfpack Ryan thinks the opposite. “At 25 years old I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to become a marquee player. Of course it wasn’t purely a financial move but to have that security blanket over my head with a young family is one I couldn’t turn down. There are three things in life you can’t ignore, the opportunity to travel the world, be happy & be well paid.”
Despite his move away from the Giants after his unsuccessful 13 month spell with the club he had nothing but praise for his old coach Rick Stone. “Mine and Rick’s relationship was fine it was probably just a clash of styles. Rick being Australian plays a conservative game based on completion rates and keeping hold of the ball, which didn’t really suit me as most people know I like to throw the ball around, take risks and entertain. I know i’m getting that with Rowls.
I’m not saying Rick’s is the wrong way and Paul’s is the right away. For me it just didn’t work out. I didn’t ever question Rick’s way and I feel I stayed professional the entire way through. But I needed to make the move fairly quickly and I’ve got no regrets about the move, there is more to life than Super League… I needed to get outside of Super League and explore what’s going on around the world.”
Ryan admitted there was interest from other Super League clubs but not enough to touch base with and with being “so unhappy at Huddersfield, I didnt want to try it again with another Super League club.” “I’ve had a real tough time over the last 18 months and I want to be that chirpy kid again who plays Rugby League. I’m looking forward to playing Rugby League and being happy again.”
A huge thank you to Ryan for taking his time after training earlier this week to speak to Jordan Weir on behalf of NothingButLeague. We wish Ryan and the Toronto Wolfpack all the best.
Photo Credit: Steve Gaunt/Touchlinepics.com