Salford Red Devils star Ryan Brierley hailed by ‘proud’ coach after milestone achievement

Ben Olawumi
Ryan Brierley, Paul Rowley

Salford Red Devils boss Paul Rowley (main image) sung the praises of milestone man Ryan Brierley (circle) after their win against Leigh Leopards

Milestone man Ryan Brierley enjoyed a stunning performance in Salford Red Devils’ victory against former club Leigh Leopards, marking his 300th career appearance in style, and boss Paul Rowley couldn’t be prouder.

Brierley – one of six players in Salford’s matchday 18 last night to have played for Leigh – scored a brace of tries on his very first senior appearance, back in February 2012 for the then-Centurions against Barrow Raiders.

A little over 12 years on, he achieved the same feat against the now-Leopards as he made his 300th as he crossed twice in the first half in front of a sold out away end, who it’s fair to say were giving him a fair share of stick!

Salford would run out 32-22 winners in the Rivals Round clash, making it four wins from their opening six Super League games in 2024, sat just outside the play-off spots on points difference at this early stage of the campaign.

Fittingly, Rowley was the man in charge of the 32-year-old for his first game and his 300th, with his full-back for pretty much his entire career.

Handing Brierley that debut against Barrow in 2012 while at Leigh, the boss has since gone on to coach him at both Toronto Wolfpack & Salford, handing him the role of vice-captain this year. Only at Huddersfield Giants and Hull KR has Rowley not been in charge of Brierley.

Ryan Brierley
Salford Red Devils star Ryan Brierley celebrates the first of his two tries on his 300th career appearance against former club Leigh

The only blot on Brierley’s copy book last night as he reached 300 appearances was a sin-binning in the last minute of the first half, returning the favour with a professional foul on Leigh’s Umyla Hanley having been felled off the ball himself by Leopards star Lachlan Lam earlier in the contest.

But given how much he brings to Salford’s table on a regular basis, including against the Leythers last night, we’re in agreement with Rowley than we can forgive him for that decision!

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Salford Red Devils star Ryan Brierley hailed by ‘proud’ coach Paul Rowley after milestone achievement

Post-match, the Red Devils boss told Love Rugby League: “I thought Ryan in his 300th game was very, very good.

“I think if he doesn’t get sin-binned, then it’s probably a toss-up (between him and Marc Sneyd) as to who gets man of the match (from Sky Sports).

“I reckon I’ve done about 200 of his 300 with him! Long may that continue.

“He’s definitely evolved as a person and as a player. He’s always been a student of the game and always been capable of scoring spectacular tries, and he shows no sign of slowing down in terms of leg speed, he’s clearly quick.”

The two tries we saw from nine-time Scotland international Brierley weren’t in the ‘spectacular’ bracket, and wouldn’t have made a top 10 of his all-time career tries in a highlights reel.

That’s no negative though, when you’ve scored as many tries as he has, there’s bound to be some you feel will never be topped. Many of those came in a Leigh shirt, with his 154 tries in their colours an all-time club record.

Indeed, there’s only 12 men who have ever made more appearances than his 156 for Leigh, including Rowley himself on 158!

Rowley sings praises of Brierley after 300th career appearance: ‘I’m very proud of him’

But back to the present day and last night’s two tries, a trademark show & go and a burst through to the line following a nice short pass from Cade Cust, both still two aesthetically pleasing finishes.

Ryan Brierley
Salford Red Devils’ Ryan Brierley tackles St Helens’ Lewis Dodd

And Rowley’s pride goes beyond those moments Brierey shows in games, as he explained: “As he’s got older in his career, he’s put his body where it hurts a little bit more.

“He’s become more renowned – certainly last year and into this year – for saving tries as much as scoring them.

“With that comes respect, he gets my respect and he gets the group’s utmost respect too.

“Like everybody in our team, we’re a decent group of lads and Ryan is a leader amongst them now. I’m very proud of him, we all are.”

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