Book Review: Off The Cuff: The Lee Briers Autobiography, by Lee Briers and Mike Appleton

Neil Barraclough

He has been one of the defining faces of Super League over the last 15 years, but Lee Briers will not be lacing his boots in 2014.

His retirement due to injury has robbed rugby league fans of at least 12 more months watching one of his generation’s most naturally gifted players, but Off The Cuff, Briers’ autobiography, gives us all one last chance to relive some of the highs and lows of a career that has always been anything but dull.

Briers teamed with ghostwriter Mike Appleton to produce his entertaining reflection on a distinguished career that included three Wembley wins and a Lance Todd trophy.

“Since I started in 1997 I reckon it (rugby league) has evolved three or four times. I’m not here to blow my own trumpet but I have had to reinvent myself at least twice… The game has changed massively and you only have to see the athletes on the field today, and like you I’m stood in awe of some of the people I play with and against. I really do think the game can go from strength to strength, but we need someone with imagination to take it forward.”

It is not just fans and pundits who rated Briers’ skills. He might have been overlooked by Great Britain coaches for the best part of a decade, but take this verdict from Andrew Johns as credible proof of his ability:

“I don’t know why he never played more games at the highest level, perhaps it was the larrikin streak in there, but I would have him right up there with the best players in Australia. He is up there with Laurie Daley, Brad Fittler and Darren Lockyer; with the elite half-backs because his skill and talent is so high… His passing game was probably the best I had ever played with.”

From those early days at St Helens through to his role as elder statesman in a Warrington team that finally began to fulfil its potential, Briers was always a player that was impossible to ignore.

His infectious enthusiasm, the cheeky lip to referees and the undeniable on-field brilliance will linger in memories well beyond the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

“I just want to be known as someone who was entertaining, a little unpredictable and who always played with a smile on his face. If people remember that, with a pint in their hands, then that’ll do me.”

It’s hard to see him not getting his wish.

Off The Cuff: The Lee Briers Autobiography, by Lee Briers and Mike Appleton, is available now. ISBN 978-1904091783, published by Vertical Editions. Buy now and save on the cover price.

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