England coach on the exciting reality for women’s game and not wanting to become a feeder for NRLW

James Gordon
Stuart Barrow

Picture by Olly Hassell/SWpix.com

England coach Stuart Barrow says the NRLW didn’t stand in the way of selecting players for the mid-season international against France.

Australia-bound Hollie Dodd, who has signed for Canberra Raiders, and Georgia Roche are expected to line-up at Warrington on Saturday afternoon.

North Queensland Cowboys announced the signing of Fran Goldthorp this weekend, though she wasn’t included in Barrow’s squad for the game due to international rugby union duty with England.

The more players that make the move to the fully professional league Down Under will create more opportunities for players to stake a claim for an England spot, with it likely to mirror the men’s game where NRL based players don’t travel for mid-season games.

The coach said of their eligibility: “Internationally it was never raised. They might have had that issue at club level and that’s between the clubs and the players, but internationally both were chomping at the bit to be selected for the squad.

“It will start to look a lot like what Shaun has with the men, so they wouldn’t come over for the mid-season but any tournament at the end of the year they would come back and play for us.”

Sending a message to young players

It creates an exciting problem for the development of women’s rugby league. While the women’s Super League doesn’t want to lose its best players, there is now a clear pathway for players to become professional.

There are three stand out teams domestically at present, and the pathway is in place to ensure that grows.

Barrow added: “I think for any coach in any sport it’s frustrating when you can’t get your best team on the pitch. That’s balanced by the opportunity that these girls have got to go out there and make themselves better players that England will benefit from.

“Not only that I think it sends a message out to the girls playing in the community now that are 15 or 16 there is an opportunity to have a full-time career in rugby league. Currently it might be in Australia but small steps, it could be us one day as well.

“We don’t want to become a feeder for the NRLW and we don’t want to weaken our competition too much. I’m sure a few more will be approached given the opportunity the World Cup was to put them in the shop window.

“What we’ve done is put a pathway in for the players and the visibility of that pathway is out there now, and it’s creating that player pool to give us the players at the top end. We’ve now just got to wait for those players to come through and become a little bit older to fill more Women’s Super League teams to make the league even more competitive.”

England take on France at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Saturday with a 2pm kick-off.

England squad: Savannah Andrade (York Valkyrie), Keara Bennett (Leeds Rhinos), Leah Burke (St Helens), Jodie Cunningham (C) (St Helens), Hollie-Mae Dodd (York Valkyrie), Grace Field (York Valkyrie), Amy Hardcastle (Leeds Rhinos), Zoe Harris (St Helens), Shona Hoyle (St Helens), Tara Jones (St Helens), Vicky Molyneux (Wigan Warriors), Eboni Partington (St Helens), Sinead Peach (York Valkyrie), Tara-Jane Stanley (York Valkyrie), Tamzin Renouf (York Valkyrie), Georgia Roche (Leeds Rhinos), Emily Rudge (St Helens), Vicky Whitfield (St Helens), Olivia Wood (York Valkyrie)

France: Elisa Akpa (Catalan Goddesses) (captain), Lauréanne Biville (RC Lescure Arthès XIII) (vice-captain), Margot Canal (Catalan Goddesses), Lauriane Canet (XIII Limouxin), Cloé Guillerot (RC Lescure Arthès XIII), Tallis Kuresa (RC Bègles XIII) Inés Legout (As Ayguesvives XIII), Sarah Menaa (Catalan Goddesses), Lise Michel (AS Ayguesvives XIII), Zoé Pastre-Courtine (Catalan Goddesses), Mahault Pommier(As Ayguesvives XIII), Perle Ramazeilles (RC Lescure Arthès XIII), Fanny Ramos (Catalan Goddesses), Alice Rieunaud (RC Lescure Arthès XIII), Justine Roses (Catalan Goddesses), Dorine Samarra (RC Lescure Arthès XIII), Manon Samarra (RC Lescure Arthès XIII), Amael Vilanove (AS Ayguesvives XIII), Nabila Zaghdoudi (Toulouse Ovalie).

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