Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

St Helens' Jodie Cunningham says they're looking to play every game this year like it is a final to get themselves in the mix for trophies

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

St Helens’ Jodie Cunningham says they’re looking to play every game this year like it is a final to get themselves in the mix for trophies

St Helens’ Jodie Cunningham says they’re looking to play every game this year like it is a final to get themselves in the mix for trophies

Representatives from the Leeds Rhinos, St Helens, York Valkyrie and Wigan Warriors camps – and new England head coach Stuart Barrow – all chatted to Sky Sports at the Women’s Super League launch.

Sky Sports‘live BWSL coverage kicks off on Easter Sunday with a rematch of last year’s Grand Final as Leeds Rhinos take on York Valkyrie ahead of the men’s clash with Huddersfield Giants.

The Rhinos are in action on Friday, May 26, too, in another double-header as both the women’s and men’s teams take on St Helens at home.

Here’s what some of the competition’s big names had to say, looking forward to the new campaign…

Sky Sports' live BWSL coverage kicks off with the first game of the season on Easter Sunday at Headingley between Leeds and York

Sky Sports’ live BWSL coverage kicks off with the first game of the season on Easter Sunday at Headingley between Leeds and York

Lois Forsell, head coach of defending Super League champions Leeds Rhinos, told Sky Sports…

“I just want to win all the time. We always want to win, and that’s never going to change for a Leeds Rhinos outfit.

“We massively want to defend that trophy. You keep something until someone takes it off you. And you make it really hard for someone to take it away from you. We want to keep that come the end of the year.

“This year, we can say we want to be out there and win it, and win all of it (treble). And have a really, really positive year.

“It’s definitely on an upfield trajectory [Women’s Super League]. It’s just that consistency of big games, we want all the games to be like that. We don’t want any one-sided games.

“And it’s really key for all the girls, improving the standards on the field, off the field, for clubs to keep on pushing.

“The woman’s game is being taken a lot more seriously. We’ve got to be really patient, Rome wasn’t built in a day. We’ll keep pushing and banging the drum so the girls are as supported as they can be.

Sky Sports are doing an amazing job making sure girls can see what they can be like. Seeing these players play, they are inspired to be the next Jodie Cunningham, Hanna Butcher.

“Look at the difference between the 2017 World Cup and the 2021 World Cup. It’s getting there, we’ve just got to be patient.”

St Helens Captain Jodie Cunningham…

“I’m so excited. It feels like it’s been the longest pre-season ever. We’re just itching to go now.

“We’ve trained hard, we’ve worked hard, and now we want to put it all out on the field.

“The easy answer is the treble [what’s your goal?]but for me it’s making sure we’re part of the big games.

“We need to make sure we’re in a great position this year.

“There was a great game on Sky Sports last year where we lost in the last minute to Leeds, and if we hold out, our season is different and we possibly make the final.

“We want to make sure we play every single game this year like its a final, and of course, we want to win the Grand Final.

“York are tough, you can’t take a backward step against them, and Leeds have that flair where they can create something out of nothing, so we have added challenges.

“But we’ve got enough to challenge both of them. It’s a hard one to call.”

Saints, winners of the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup in 2022, host York at Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday, July 28, followed by the play-offs following the conclusion of the regular season.

York captain Sinead Peach…

“To be back here [Headingley] in two weeks time, walking the girls out is going to be a massive occasion.

“To play here and for it to be on Sky, it’s a great opener to the season for the women’s game.

“We can get more fans rooting for the women’s game and more supporters.

“I love to captain the squad, I’m a natural leader. I like to speak, be loud, be involved in everything with the squad, so it comes natural to me. So to be appointed, has been great.

“Our dream is the treble, for every team it is. Last season we were obviously the most consistent team, lifting the League Leader’s Shield, so we want that again.

“We’ve got strength in depth, we’ve recruited well, pre-season has gone well and we’re just looking forward to getting going and showing people what we’re made of.

“If you haven’t watched a women’s game, it’s your loss. It’s resilient, it’s tough, it’s fast. There’s a lot of talent across the board. Come down and watch.”

Wigan Warriors’ Rachel Thompson, out for 19 months through injury…

“It’s something that I’m aiming for [returning for the opening game]. But I can’t say for definite that I’ll be there for that first game.

“I’m definitely trying to make it for the second game. It has been such a long time, I don’t want to rush anything.

“I’m taking all the advice from the club and physios, so we’re setting our goals. We’ll see how it goes.

“The body feels good. It’s in good shape. I’ve passed a lot of the strength and fitness testing, I’m now building up to do some contact, and I just can’t wait to get back into the mix of it .

“The club has been behind the game so much, that it’s really helped us to grow and recruit, and we’ve got some really talented girls coming through, and I just can’t wait to get them onto the field and show everyone what they can do.

“It’s a massive honor for me to be given the role of Women and Girls Rugby Operations.

“I am very passionate about the game, I want to take it forward, and I want to give these girls the opportunity they deserve. They work so hard and I see them, coming in after full-time jobs and training so hard.

“They really deserve these opportunities that hopefully I can give them.

“We [Wigan Warriors] want to be up there competing, we don’t want to just let this season pass us by.

“We struggled last season with injuries. We want to be back up there, we know what it feels like to win a Grand Final, and we feel like we’ve got the team this year that can go out and win some silverware.”

Stuart Barrow, new England Women head coach…

“On the back of the World Cup, and the last three years of the Women’s Super League, the game is growing and expanding, and developing, and I want that to continue.

“We want the Women’s Super League to be really competitive, and I think it’s going to start to heading that way, which will then produce a better international side.

“It’s letting the girls know they are actually better than they think they are. We have a tendency to put the southern hemisphere teams on a pedestal.

“And I think it’s showing them, that in the World Cup semi-final [vs New Zealand] for the first 25 minutes we were the better side, and it’s about reinforcing that to the girls, and if we build on that going forward, we can get to where we want to get to.

“Where the 2025 World Cup is concerned, I’m here to win it. I’m not here to take part.”

Sky Sports is the home of all three Super League Grand Finals in 2023. The Men’s Grand Final, the Women’s Grand Final and the Wheelchair Grand Final will all be live on Sky Sports this season. Also stream on NOW TV.

By cb2gp