David Clegg Meets With Newly Recruited Hooker, Kriss Brining
The pre-Super League season of 1991/2 will be remembered, in rugby league circles, as the one and only season in which rugby league was graced by the presence of the short-lived Scarborough Pirates, who, at the end of that season disappeared as suddenly as they had arrived.
The Pirates might not have made any great impact on the sport, at a professional level, but it is not only surprising, but really good to learn that their name still lives on in their hometown, North Yorkshire coastal resort, of Scarborough. No longer do they compete in the lower echelons of the professional game, but instead have become an established amateur club, which, until quite recently, was involved in Youth Development, within the game.
It was to this area of the club that six year old Kriss Brining followed his two older brothers, joining the U9s, and playing his first ever game against Skirlaugh Bulls. Such a significant difference in age between himself and other members of the team, and opposition, might have been off-putting for many, but being one of four brothers, rough and tumbles had always been part of growing up, and so the physicality of the game held no qualms for him.
Although he started out as a stand-off half, it was not long before he moved to hooker, which he has found suits him ideally. He likes being totally involved in the game from dummy half, where he acts as a springboard for every attack, and also being solely responsible for the decision making around the ruck.
His time with the Pirates started to draw to an end, after five years there, when, due to a shortage of players, the age span of the team suddenly increased to encompass him, aged eleven, into the U14s team. Whilst he had not minded the wide age spans in the early years, it was a quite different proposition being up against teenagers, and he actually took twelve months out of the game, at this point.
It was as a result of his being invited to join the North Yorkshire Service Area team that he returned as a thirteen year old, and from this he was encouraged by friends within the squad, to join New Earswick All Blacks ARLFC, who were based in York. Rather like a row of dominos, one event led almost immediately to another, and now performing in a more recognised rugby league area, he was quickly spotted by York City Knights, with whom he stayed for ten full seasons.
His first team debut came in a baptism of fire, aged seventeen, away at Widnes, in 2011, when both clubs were still in the Championship.
“Widnes had just learned, a couple of days before, that they had been awarded Super League status for the following year, and they were consequently on the crest of a wave, so I’m afraid we got a bit of a hiding,” he recalls.
An equally difficult outing awaited him, two seasons later in 2013, when, as part of an extremely inexperienced side, he turned out in a Challenge Cup tie, in the South of France, against Catalans Dragons.
“A lot of our players were unable to get the time off work to make the trip, so we were really pushed to get a team together,” he explains. “We just had to go there and do our best, which was all we could do in those circumstances.”
Despite these two extremely testing experiences, everything surrounding the club was ideal for him, its being the only professional outfit in North Yorkshire, yet relatively close to his home. Indeed, he acknowledges that the club was really good to him over the years, and he remembers best the fine times he has had.
“Winning the league, in 2014, was really special,” he enthuses, “and then, last season, 2016, second rower Ed Smith, who is a really good friend of mine, and I, were jointly awarded Player of the Year.”
For Ed Smith, this was to herald his appointment as club captain, for this coming season, but for Kriss, his career path lay in another direction – here.
Having come through almost to the end of pre-season training, he tells me has settled in really well.
“Everyone has been absolutely great,” he maintains, “and there is a really good atmosphere around the whole club. It is a really professional environment, with the training ground alongside the stadium, our own gym, and the players’ lounge in which to relax.
“As far as the coming season is concerned, I just want to perform well in the pre-season friendlies, and then be involved in as many games as I can during the season proper. Just a regular place in the seventeen will suffice for me.”
After his most impressive start, at Rochdale last weekend, there will be many who believe he is well on his way towards that, already.