Briers: Wales can shock England

Wales captain Lee Briers believes there is a widespread misconception about the Four Nations, which begins this weekend. "It's the Four Nations, not the Three Nations like people seem to think," said the Warrington stand-off, who captains Wales against England at Leigh this afternoon. "We are massive underdogs, but we aren't here just to make up the numbers."

Wales clinched their place with a shock win over France a year ago. Now that their day of reckoning has arrived, their task looks a formidable one.

Briers and Ian Watson, the half-back combination which famously embarrassed Australia for an hour in the 2000 World Cup, are now 33 and 34 respectively. Briers said, however, that they might have one last surprise up their sleeves. "Nobody's expecting anything from us, so there's no pressure."

Briers' exploits for the country for which he qualifies through a grandmother from Flint have been a consolation prize for the Great Britain career he never had. One of the most creative players in the game for almost a decade and a half, a succession of national coaches have mistrusted his maverick tendencies. He even retired from playing for Wales before being persuaded back into the fold.

"People have been telling me for years that I should be playing for Great Britain, but I'm a great believer in fate and I think that the times I've had with Wales have been a reward for my loyalty to them," he said.

Briers' form for Warrington over the past couple of years is often attributed to the greater discipline he has acquired under the coaching of Tony Smith. He would not disagree with that, but says that the popular image of him as a loose cannon was always wide of the mark.

"He's come in and given me a new lease of life. The idea that I lacked discipline was always just an outside perception, but Tony has given me a new confidence." Briers will face two of his more destructive Warrington team-mates in Ben Westwood and Adrian Morley and knows that, as the main Welsh playmaker, he will be a legitimate target for their attentions. "But maybe it will be me battering them," he said with a grin.

If he is to have another day to remember in the red of Wales, Briers will need a huge effort from some relatively inexperienced forwards. Gil Dudson and Ben Flower are earmarked for Wigan, which is some indication of their potential. Lloyd White will be in Super League with Widnes and has the makings of a top-flight player, while the Australia-born Tyson Frizell made a promising debut against Ireland.

It should not add up to enough to prevent England getting off to a winning start, probably by a handsome margin, but Steve McNamara will want to see a less uneven performance than the one in France last Friday.

In particular, he will be looking for Rangi Chase to sustain his efforts for the full 80 minutes and to form a dominant partnership with Kevin Sinfield. If he fails to do that, Briers is waiting in the wings to run the show. It might be too much to expect Wales to win, but they could make it awkward.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
The spider makes its break for freedom
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot