Toronto make Brierley marquee man

Toronto Wolfpack have completed the signing of Huddersfield halfback Ryan Brierley.

The two clubs have agreed a deal that will see the 24-year-old join the trans-Atlantic club for a five-figure fee in what is the Canadian club’s marquee signing since their inception.

Brierley, 25, joined Huddersfield 13 months ago following a high-profile exit from Leigh Centurions, where he scored a phenomenal 133 tries in 125 appearances.

But his four-year contract with the Giants has come to an early end after he dropped down Rick Stone’s pecking order, with Danny Brough and Lee Gaskell being selected ahead of the Scotland international over the last number of weeks.

TotalRL understands the Giants have been able to recuperate the majority of the fee they paid for Brierley when he moved to Huddersfield from Leigh last year.

“The opportunity to become a marquee player at the Wolfpack was too good to turn down,” he said.

“Toronto are the most exciting and most talked about business in the industry. It’s there for everyone to see how far they’ve come on in a short space of time and I think it’s fair to say they’re the most talked about team in this country.

“There was the opportunity to go to a few Super League clubs but there are three things in life you can’t ignore and that’s the opportunity to travel the world, be happy and be well paid.”

Brierley arrived at the Giants as the most exciting talent outside of Super League, having played a pivotal role in Leigh’s rise to becoming viable promotion contenders to Super League.

He was signed by former Giants coach Paul Anderson, and Brierley enjoyed relative success playing at fullback, including a hat-trick against Wigan Warriors last April.

But following the arrival of Stone later that year, the former Castleford youngster found himself in and out of the team on a regular basis, with Jamie Ellis and Brough regularly picked ahead of him.

However, he returned to the squad for the final few games of the Qualifiers and played a huge role in securing their Super League status, scoring in a victory over Leeds and subsequently recording two tries in their 23-22 victory over Hull Kingston Rovers which secured safety.

Following the departure of Ellis to Hull KR for the 2017 season, it appeared that he would be given a regular run at halfback after being awarded the number seven shirt.

But he has featured just once following the club’s 30-0 defeat to Leigh at the beginning of March, and he has subsequently been allowed to leave by the Giants.

His move to Toronto sees him reunited with Paul Rowley, his former coach at Leigh whose relationship with the halfback has been well documented in the media.

The pair enjoyed major success over a number of years at the Centurions, but Rowley’s departure from Leigh on the eve of the 2016 season ultimately played a significant role in Brierley’s exit.

Brierley claimed he had a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave if Rowley ever departed the club and he subsequently left Leigh less than two months following his resignation.

However, the two have been reunited after just over a year apart, and the Toronto head coach admitted that he was delighted to be back alongside his former player, who could make his debut in Toronto’s Challenge Cup game with Salford on Sunday.

“It will be satisfying to see him wear a Toronto jersey,” he said.

“We’ve had a partnership from day one in my coaching career and his playing career. It will feel right.

“Ryan will play his best when he is happy and I feel like he will be able to feel like that here.

“For one reason or another, he didn’t quite fit into Huddersfield’s style of play. But he’s had a great experience at Huddersfield and comes back as a more experienced player.”

Brierley’s departure leaves Huddersfield with a shortage of halfbacks in the squad.

Brough and Gaskell are the only two recognised halfbacks in the Giants squad, while Ellis does not have a recall option in his deal at Hull Kingston Rovers.

With Danny Brough set to serve a two-match suspension, it leaves Stone with a major selection problem going into their Challenge Cup game with Swinton and Super League clash with Leeds Rhinos as pressure grows on Rick Stone following a run of eight games without a victory.