Dreams are becoming a reality for England star Hollie-Mae Dodd, who will become a full-time professional rugby league player this month.
The 19-year-old will become England’s first professional female rugby league player when she links up with her new club Canberra later this month.
Dodd will join the Raiders in the largely professional NRLW on a two-year deal from Women’s Super League side York.
“I dreamed of being a professional rugby league player for a long time but I didn’t really think it was possible,” Dodd said.
“It means such a lot to be the first England player to go over there and become a full-time athlete, and hopefully it will show the way for so many other female players to do the same.
“They’re like family at York and I really struggled to tell the girls that I was leaving. I just hope it sends a message to girls at the club and in the city that they can follow suit.
“I’ve never been to Australia or many other places, but I can’t wait to get out there. Being fully professional will 100% benefit my game. I can’t wait for it to become a full-time job.”
From the ballroom to professional rugby league: The remarkable journey of Hollie-Mae Dodd
Dodd gave up her promising career as a ballroom dancer after attending trial for Castleford’s rugby team, going on to play in the 2019 Challenge Cup final at the age of just 16.
“I started playing rugby when I went to high school,” she added.
“I used to be a ballroom dancer but a few teachers told me to go and try out at Cas. Quite a lot of team-mates still tell me I’ve got fancy ballroom feet.”
The strong-running forward then joined York Valkyrie, helping the club clinch the League Leaders’ Shield last season. She played in her first World Cup last autumn, helping England reach the semi-finals.
She represented her country again on Saturday, scoring two tries to help England thrash France 64-0 in Warrington on Saturday.
Dodd will be joined in the NRLW by two of her England team-mates. Leeds full-back Fran Goldthorp has penned a two-year deal with North Queensland Cowboys whilst former Woman of Steel Georgia Roche will link up with Newcastle Knights from Leeds.