We Can Outlast Them: Rhinos Trust In Stamina In Women’s Title Bid

Leeds face this year's League Leaders York City Knights in Sunday's Grand Final
13:00, 15 Sep 2022

Leeds Rhinos Women started preparing for Sunday’s Grand Final last November, such was their shared desire to gain an edge on the opposition.

A 28-0 Grand Final humiliation by St Helens had stung Lois Forsell’s side badly. Her side had wrongs to right, points to prove and goals to achieve. So they got straight back to work.

“You forget how long this season has been,” says Forsell, a Grand Final winner with Bradford Bulls in the inaugural Women’s Super League season of 2017.


“Last year’s disappointment massively drives us on, no one wants to feel like that. But we need to make the most of the now and take care of the job in hand.”

Leeds have been in every Grand Final since then, winning the big prize in 2019 but tasting defeat either side. And Forsell says that is firing them on to beat League Leaders’ Shield winners York City Knights Ladies this weekend.

“We started pre-season in November on the back of that Grand Final defeat. We weren’t going to make that same mistake twice,” she admits.

”We knew we had to be a lot fitter and more robust so we started before Christmas then picked up again in January.”

“That extra fitness has made a huge difference, because every team is striving to be better. You can question some of our performances in defeat but we are scoring in the back end of games which shows it is not our fitness, it is just taking opportunities. 

“We need to make sure we don’t walk off the pitch on Sunday with anything still left in the tank.”

Rhinos Head Coach Lois Forsell
Rhinos Head Coach Lois Forsell

The Rhinos have lost twice this season to York, who have been the standout side in the Betfred Women’s Super League, losing just once. 

The most recent Knights win over Leeds clinched the League Leaders’ Shield at Headingley live on The Sportsman last month, cementing Lindsay Anfield’s side as the new dominant force in the women’s game.

“Whenever you lose you are learning,” Forsell adds. “We know what they will come at us with so we can think about that. 

“That was a really disappointing day and performance so we know we need to be a lot better”.

Knights boss Anfield - who led Castleford to that 2019 Grand Final against the Rhinos - insisted that their League Leaders’ Shield triumph would count for nothing if they failed to turn it into a Grand Final win. Now is their moment to do so in their first ever appearance in the showpiece game

Like Anfield, Forsell finds herself nominated for Coach of the Year but acknowledges that her side have been second best to York in 2022.

“York have been pretty consistent which we haven’t really been,” Forsell adds.

“That doesn’t matter on Grand Final day though. 

“We feel much more resilient this year. In the semi-final we really saw that. Even in the Cup final defeat we produced a tough performance, it was not down to character.

“They recruited well as we did to get strength in depth. They have strike across the park with great homegrown talent, but again so do we.

“It may be York’s first Grand Final but they have players who have been there with other teams.”

The game in St Helens will be live on Sky Sports on Sunday, the latest big platform for a fast-growing sport in World Cup year.

York will have their three Women Of Steel contenders on the pitch in Tara Jane Stanley, Sinead Peach and Hollie Dodd, who is also up for the Young Player award alongside Leeds pair Keara Bennett and Fran Goldthorp. 

Georgia Roche, The Rhinos’ Woman of Steel nomination, broke her foot in the last game against York and will hope instead to be fit for the World Cup.

“We are all here because we want to win,” says Forsell.

“We are a tight-knit group and are really well supported by the club. Ultimately we play in the tough games because we want to win. 

“You put everything in because you want to get everything out, and that means winning the Grand Final at the end of the year.”

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