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Briers visits Knights to learn from best

Matt Logue

2P3A3583

If you want to be the best, you’ve got to learn from the best.

That’s the simple philosophy former Welsh rugby league international Lee Briers has adopted on his recent fact-finding mission to Australia to visit a number of NRL clubs.     

Now happily retired after 17 seasons in the English Super League with St Helens and Warrington, the 35-year-old has swapped his boots for the clipboard as a full-time coach at Warrington.     

In an attempt to gain an insight into the world of coaching, Briers has spent the past week at the Newcastle Knights under seven-time premiership winning coach Wayne Bennett.

The halfback, who played 23 games for Wales, says he picked up plenty of tips from Bennett to take back home and implement in the English game. 

"You want to learn from the best and Wayne is regarded as the best in this code," Briers says. 

"So it’s invaluable some of the stuff I’ve picked up from him.

"I’d like to thank Wayne for opening up and allowing me to come in and see the Knights' system.

"I just wanted to see how it was done on the other side of the world and hopefully pick up some good tips to set me on the next path in my career.

"I thought the setup here was very good and it’s a quality organisation straight from the top to the bottom, so I was really impressed.

"I was also welcomed with opened arms, so it was real good."

Briers was forced to retire at the end of 2013 due to a neck injury. He played 425 games for Warrington and scored a club record 2,586 points in a period spanning 16 seasons.  

Asked about the differences between the English Super League and the NRL, Briers nominated the weather and overall depth.   

“Oh the weather,” he grins.

“No, it’s probably just the strength and depth that teams have got here.

“The skill level is also a bit higher and the pace of the game is a bit quicker with the new rules.

“So it has been a great experience.”

Briers is only in his first year of coaching, but he says it has always been a part of his long-term plans post football. 

It's why he wanted to come to Australia to see how coaches operate in what is considered the world's best competition.

"It has been about three years in planning and the club were happy to send me and pay for everything," he says.

"It’s real good of Warrington to do that.

"It’s different, but something that I planned for and I’m really looking forward to the next chapter in my life.”