World Cup record-holder came close to Women’s Super League move

Sebastian Sternik
Laura Mariu

Laura Mariu, who is currently in action for the Canada Ravens at the Women’s World Cup, revealed she came close to joining Castleford Tigers in 2020. 

The 41-year-old who has won three World Cups with New Zealand and is regarded as a legend of the women’s game, revealed she previously looked to compete in the Women’s Super League. 

Mariu’s efforts were ultimately thwarted by the outbreak of Covid-19, though she believes the move would’ve been an “awesome” experience.

“In 2020, around that time, I was actually looking at coming over here [UK] to be a part of the Super League,” Mariu told Love Rugby League. “But due to Covid, I wasn’t able to see that opportunity through.”

Castleford were in talks with a couple of foreign-based players at the time, and when asked whether the Tigers were one of the interested clubs, she said: “I think it was. It was two years ago now, but I was definitely interested in coming over.

“I approached a couple of teams. There was one team that was interested. It was an opportunity to experience something different, exposing the game and helping other people outside of the UK being a part of it.

“It would’ve been awesome. I would’ve loved it.”

Mariu admitted she would like more foreign-based players to test themselves in the Women’s Super League. 

She said: “In terms of expanding the game, it would be awesome to have opportunities for people outside of England to come and play in the Super League. 

“We’ve got the NRLW in Australia. I think it’s fitting that people will look elsewhere and go to the UK as well.”

Laura Mariu paving the way for women’s rugby league

Mariu has recently changed her international allegiance from New Zealand to Canada and is currently representing the Ravens at the 2021 World Cup. 

The former Kiwi Fern is the only player to have featured in every Women’s World Cup since the tournament’s inception. 

She is currently involved in her sixth campaign and was on the field as Canada lost their opening group game against PNG 34-12 on Tuesday. 

Looking back at her time on the international scene, Mariu said: “It makes me feel a little bit old but I’m really grateful. 

“I’ve come from the old era, into the new era. I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to experience both sides, and both sides bring such good values. Especially the older era. 

“Things were pretty tough back then. We didn’t have the support they receive now. We didn’t care about that stuff, but we had to pay for our flights, we had to pay for accommodation and do all the hard yards. 

“Obviously those hard yards have paid off because we’ve been able to pave the way for the younger girls coming through. Look where we’re at now. Everything’s paid for, flights and accommodation. Just those things that make it a little bit easier.”

Mariu was part of the New Zealand side which won the first three editions of the Women’s World Cup in 2000, 2003 and 2008.

“I feel really blessed to have been part of three World Cup [winning] campaigns”

When asked how it felt to be a three-time world champion, she said: “I feel really blessed to have been part of three World Cup [winning] campaigns and been world champion. 

“I think what always kept me grounded was representing my family. Representing my family and the people back home in New Zealand. Just knowing that we make them proud. 

“In the older era, we didn’t get much exposure back then. Maybe that’s why I’m downplaying it a bit.”

Mariu will be back in action for Canada when the Ravens take on England at the DW Stadium in Wigan on November 5.

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