CRAIG Briscoe and Oldham RL Club are coming to terms with grim news that the Roughyeds’ new boy won’t play again this season.
Injured against his former club Barrow Raiders in a pre-season warm up, the back-row forward needs surgery to repair a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, which is also badly bruised on the bone.
Signed last autumn to bolster promoted Oldham’s pack for Championship rugby, he was playing in only his second ‘friendly’ for his new club when he went down injured in a tackle close to Barrow’s try line.
“We are upset as a club, but nowhere near as upset as Craig, who was so looking forward to making an impression at Oldham,” said chairman Chris Hamilton.
“Hopefully, he will get his operation out of the way as quickly as he can and then he can start on rehab and the long haul back.
“The first thing he told me after the prognosis was that he wanted to remain involved with us. That’s a measure of the man. We will do all we can to help him and to speed his return to playing rugby.”
That was endorsed by head coach Scott Naylor, who said he felt “desperately sorry” for Briscoe, who hadn’t missed a single training session since the annual pre-season slog began last autumn.
He went on: “He’s a great lad and we were looking forward to seeing how he would play for us in the Championship.
“Injuries are part of the game, but he has been very unlucky with this one. I know he will do all he can to get back playing for Oldham as soon as he can. He deserves to be playing because he’s a great lad who will only ever give of his best.”
A joiner, 23-year-old Briscoe has accepted that he won’t play again this season even though he’s walking normally and had only two days off work after his ill-fated return to Craven Park, this time in the ‘away’ dressing room.
He said: “I was stunned when they gave me the scan results because my knee seemed to be improving day by day.
“There’s obviously a lot wrong with it inside, but it certainly wasn’t the news I was expecting.
“I’ve some tough times ahead — like when I’m on crutches after the op —-but I’ll be working hard on my rehab and staying involved with the club and the boys in the hope that I can get back into it as quickly as possible.
“That will probably be next season. Anything else would be a bonus.”
The signing of former Rochdale and North Wales forward Gary Middlehurst will help to compensate for Briscoe’s loss. Middlehurst trained with Roughyeds for the first time last night, but he will need a few more sessions before he is ready for his Oldham debut.