8th November 2017, 09:36 | community
The Leeds Rhinos Women's Team have been continuing preparations ahead of their first season in Super League next year by working with some of the best young talent in the city throughout October, as coaching staff from the Rhinos move closer to final squad selections in December.
Since announcing plans to launch their first women’s team in September, the club has been working through a series of trial sessions and try outs at the University of Leeds and John Charles Centre for Sport to identify talented players to play for the team and the Academy.
Alongside selecting an Open Age side, who will play at the University of Leeds' Sports Park at Weetwood and feature as the curtain raiser game at selected Leeds Rhinos' Super League fixtures, the club are also selecting an under 19s side to keep more young girls, who drop off at the 16+ mark, engaged in Rugby League.
The creation of the women's team is part of Leeds Rhinos Foundation's commitment to grow the game through their Rugby League Development Plan, sponsored by Mears.
Leon Crick, Rugby League Development Manager at Leeds Rhinos Foundation, said: "We are coming to the end of the trial process now where we've had about five or six sessions for various groups - from under 16 to 19s to senior Open Age try outs. This has seen over 120 women and girls come through the process.
"It's been really good for us to see the standard of players that are out there and we are at the stage now where we want to start making some decisions about who we want to invite to take part in the team for 2018.
"We've had established Rugby League players, we've had some players from other sports, not just Rugby Union which we might have expected, but some ex-footballers, a few student athletes and then some people who are not playing the game or have decided to drop out of the game but are looking to get back into it, so it gives us some tricky decisions when trying to put a squad together."
Rhinos Assistant Coach Barry Eaton has been helping with Talent ID
Leon Crick and Lois Forsell discuss the Leeds Rhinos Women's Team
To identify the best talent from the process Leeds Rhinos Foundation have also enlisted the support of the Rhinos scholarship and academy coaching departments as Women and Girl's Development Officer and England International Lois Forsell explains: "We've had members of the scholarship department and first team coaching staff, such as (Assistant Coach) Barry Eaton, who has done some talent identification as part of the process, so we have been able to get a lot of people looking at the girls giving them more than one opportunity to come and play at our trial venues.
"It's exciting to see how we get on with an under 19s structure as well as first team."
The club are also in the process of selecting a backroom staff to support the team in 2018, which will be announced alongside the final team selections in December.
"There's quite a lot of work to do away from the trials," Crick added.
"We need to pull together a bit of a management team and look at other roles around coaching, assistant coaches, team managers and all the support you'd expect a high standard team to have such as strength and conditioning and nutrition.
"We are getting that all tied together so that when we hopefully have offered places for the squad, we can bring everyone together to give everyone a clear picture of what are plans are for next season."