York City Knights hooker Kriss Brining has confirmed his decision to retire from rugby league.
The 28-year-old Scarborough-born Knights scholarship product has made the decision after a run of setbacks throughout the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
Brining made his Knights debut in 2011 as a seventeen-year-old against Widnes Vikings after coming through the scholarship system and lined up alongside current Head Coach James Ford in the Knights shirt.
After eye-catching campaigns in 2015 and 2016, scoring forty-five tries in forty-five Knights appearances, Betfred Super League side Salford Red Devils signed the hooker. With the AJ Bell Stadium club, Brining went on to make twenty-five appearances in 2017 before missing all of 2018 with a neck injury.
Upon the expiry of his Salford contract, Brining returned to the Knights for our return to the second tier in 2019. The hooker made twenty-five appearances that year before appearing in three matches of the aborted 2020 season.
2021 saw Brining hit by bad luck with a series of injuries. He was, however, able to take to the field and score a try at the national stadium when the Knights played in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Final against Featherstone Rovers at Wembley.
This season saw Brining pass 150 career games, reaching the milestone in our victory over London Broncos, but after leaving play in our win at Workington Town this season with concussion, he has decided to call an end to his rugby league career.
On his retirement, Head Coach James Ford said: “He’s brought an awful lot to this club. Kriss’ journey isn’t a traditional rugby league story. He’s not from the M62 corridor, he’s from Scarborough and came into the first-team here at an early age. He didn’t come through an academy pathway and I think he should be really proud of how far he has come in the game.
“To make it to Super League and be nominated for the Young Player of the Year award is pretty special and he should be proud of the resilience he has shown to overcome a number of setbacks that would probably have finished off a number of players a long time before.
“From a personal note, I’ve seen him as a promising young kid and I was really pleased to see him reach a higher level. I’ve got a strong relationship with him and I think that everyone at the club will miss him as a player and as a person. I hope he gets the send off he deserves.
Discussing his first memory of Brining, Ford told the tale of one of his first training sessions alongside him.
“The first thing I knew of him was when he was running over the top of me! It was a semi-contact drill and we know that Kriss has got two types of contact – full on or not at all! He ploughed straight over the top of me and Chris Thorman introduced him to me and said, ‘that’s Kriss Brining, get used to that!’
“He’s full-blooded and he’s had some outstanding games for us. One that stands out to me is one that we lost to Doncaster where I basically said to him at half-time that he was the one who could get us back in the game, get involved as much as you can.
“He single-handedly pulled that game back for us and got us into a winning position. We couldn’t quite hold on but he was unplayable that day and he has been unplayable for York on a number of occasions in recent years.
“You always want to go out on your own terms as a player and Kriss and I, honestly, probably both had it in the back of our minds that this would be his last season. We both wanted him to finish by playing to the levels he’s capable of but, for one reason or another, we’ve not quite managed to do that for him.
During his injury-hit 2021, Brining was able to take to the field at Wembley and became a national stadium try-scorer in the 1895 Cup Final against Featherstone, something Ford is pleased the hooker was able to achieve.
“He deserves it. He’s been at this club in some very, very difficult times and he gone onto bigger and better things at Salford before coming back and he has probably enjoyed more success in his second stint. For him to get an appearance at Wembley and to score is something I’m really proud to have been involved in and I hope he is, too.
An emotional Brining paid testament to the Knights fans after speaking about leaving the Club.
“I have been thinking about it for a little bit of time now and, obviously, in the last couple of years I’ve had a fair few injuries. I’ve been unlucky with that so that’s one of the reasons but another is that my wife is American and she’s moved halfway around the world for me.
“She’s at home a few nights a week by herself and there’s days where I only see her for ten or fifteen minutes. That was another reason but there’s work as well.
“It’s a perfect storm of circumstances where a few things have made me think it’s the right time to retire.
“With the injuries, I’ve had enough of putting my family through worrying how long I’ll be on the pitch so yeah, there’s a few different things that make this the right time.
“Whenever I’ve gone to a game and you see the amount of fans that want to talk to you, want to wish you the best, it’s pretty special. They are great people and the amount of conversations I’ve had with them, as well… unfortunately most of mine have been around injuries and when I will be back, but all the ever cared about was me being fit and healthy, being back on the pitch doing what I have loved to do for so long.
“Even when I was at Salford, there would be York fans sending me tweets. They really followed my journey, they’ve been absolutely immense throughout the whole process and my whole career.”
Everyone at the Knights would like to wish Kriss well in retirement and to thank him for his efforts across both of his spells with the Club.