St Helens women head coach, Derek Hardman, doesn’t believe his team’s achievements were in any way overshadowed by the concurrent success of the club’s men’s team.
Saints made history last Sunday by beating Leeds Rhinos 28-0 at Headingley to win the Grand Final and complete a season treble, less than 24 hours after the men completed a Grand Final and Challenge Cup double.
Speaking after the game, Hardman was asked about his thoughts on the overall success of the club.
He said: “To be fair to us, we’ve wrote our own history this year. I don’t think we’ve been in the shadow of the men.
“We won the League Leaders [Shield] as well and as one club, we’re very happy and very proud. That starts from the top down. We’re all on the same page.”
St. Helens won every game they played in this season and claimed both the Women’s Super League crown and the Challenge Cup without much of a fuss.
Despite their dominance, Hardman admitted that success in his eyes is less about trophies and more about the development of his players as people.
He said: “When you judge success, people think about trophies. But I’m with these girls every day. I’ve been blessed to be with them for three years. To see them grow as a group and to see them grow individually as rugby players, that to me means everything.
“Trophies are nice and that’s what people like to see. But for me it’s about seeing them develop as people. And they’ve all developed as people and that’s all I can ask for.”
Hardman hails Harris impact for St Helens women
One player who made a particularly important contribution in the Grand Final was Zoe Harris. The halfback produced two sensational assists before scoring a try of her own.
Hardman paid tribute to Harris saying: “She was outstanding. If you think, at the beginning of the year, Zoe wasn’t in our starting line-up. We had Faye [Gaskin] and Beth Stott at halfback.
“Zoe had to wait her turn but you know what, since she’s come in, we haven’t missed a beat. She’s took over, all testament to Zo. She’s really pushed on. Great player, great individual.”
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Saints may have won it all this season but Hardman still believes there’s room for improvement.
When asked about 2022, he added: “There’s always more to come, there’s always ways you can improve. I think we’ve improved this year.
“In 2022, they’ve just got to have that same desire and want to go out and win trophies. Also next year we have a World Cup. In a World Cup year, a lot of our girls will be hoping to be involved in that, they’ll need to raise their game.”