Smith and Brown pay tribute to Briers

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The Independent Online

He might have been pipped to the Lance Todd Trophy by a team-mate, Michael Monaghan, but both coaches at Wembley paid tribute to Lee Briers. The Warrington half-back was an influential figure in the club's long-awaited Challenge Cup win.

"Lee was very good for us today, very solid," said Tony Smith, the coach who is widely credited with changing Briers' attitude this season. "His defence was pretty strong, which it needed to be, because [the Giants] picked him out, and that kick to Chris Riley [in the lead-up to the Wolves' third try] was a really smart play."

Huddersfield's Nathan Brown said: "I've always thought of [Briers] as a talented player who has wasted a lot of years of football. But I take my hat off to him, because I think he's turned his career around. Through Tony Smith, he's learned what hard work does for you."

Brown said Huddersfield had suffered through the loss of the stand-off Kevin Brown with a knee ligament injury in the first half. "But we were already playing badly when Kevin was still out there," he said. "We were never going great and we let ourselves down a bit. A fair few players were below their best and in some real key positions. The occasion probably got to some people."

The occasion only served to bring the best out of Warrington and their captain, Adrian Morley, in particular.

"He's Mr Consistent. I haven't seen him have a bad game this season. He's been smashing players this year and they're usually the opposition's big players," Smith said. "I feel a bit for Huddersfield, because sometimes there can be a risk in resting players that you lose a bit of form."

Smith said he had been too superstitious to touch the game's most famous trophy before the final.

"The cup has something special about it, not just because of the way it looks but because of the way you have to lift yourself for the occasion – and that's what we've done. You've got to work real hard for it and that's what makes it so special. Our defence has been outstanding today."

Monaghan, who became the third Australian to win the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match, paid tribute to the Warrington fans.

"I didn't realise until today how much it meant to our supporters," he said. "It was like a home game."