Leeds coach coy on Roche link and says they can close the gap to St Helens

Sebastian Sternik

Paige Travis #19 of St Helens is tackled by Courtney Winfield-Hill #7 of Leeds Rhinos and Lucy Murray #20 of Leeds Rhinos

Leeds head coach, Lois Forsell, insists there isn’t a massive gap between her side and St Helens despite Sunday’s Women’s Super League Grand Final defeat.

Saints won 28-0 at Headingley to clinch a history-making treble – the first in the women’s game since Bradford Bull’s unbeaten season of 2017.

READ: St Helens win Women’s Super League Grand Final

Leeds Rhinos, who won the league and cup double in 2019, were hoping to defend both crowns only to be denied by their Lancashire rivals in both competitions.

Speaking after the game, Forsell said: “We started really well, started like we asked them to. I think for the first 20 minutes we gave a good account of ourselves but then missed opportunities on the back of that.  

“We gave ourselves too much to do. We didn’t start the second half as well as Saints did. We showed some grit and determination in the last five but that’s not what you do in a Grand Final, you need to do it for the full eighty.”

For Saints, this was their second victory of the season over the Leeds Rhinos. Their first came a few months earlier in the Challenge Cup semi-final.

Back in April, the difference between the two sides was a mere 10 points. Nevertheless, Forsell believes that the gap is not insurmountable.

She said: “We could’ve closed the gap today. Hats off to Saints, they were the best team on the day and I would not take anything away from that performance. They were outstanding.

“But that doesn’t mean to say that we didn’t play to our potential. We certainly could’ve made that game harder for them. When we talk about a gap, I don’t think there’s a massive gap.

“We’ve got to look at the semi-final [Challenge Cup] just ten points in it. We let ourselves down in some areas of the game. We dropped off too much and let in some easy tries. The gap is not too big for us to do anything about. There’s some exciting stuff coming from us in 2022.”

The Grand Final capped off a debut season in the coaching game for Forsell.

“I really enjoyed it. I had a lot on my plate this year with covid, new coach, new mum, so I’m looking forward to 2022 and finding my groove a little bit more.

“I think I’ve given it everything that I had. At the end of the day, you win or you lose. I don’t like losing so I’ll be doing even more next year to try and make sure that we’re not on the losing end of a Grand Final.”

Looking ahead to next season, Forsell was asked about potential incomings. Despite being linked with Castleford Tigers halfback, Georgia Roche, the Leeds coach didn’t give away too much information

Forsell said: “We can certainly add to the squad. Obviously, there’s some bits that we’re doing over the off season. That will come to light in the next couple of weeks.”