Caitlin Beevers confident Leeds Rhinos can stun St Helens in Women's Super League Grand Final
Leeds Rhinos' England full-back Caitlin Beevers knew women’s rugby league was making an impact when she started getting recognised in the street.
Beevers, who will turn 20 next week, has been playing for Rhinos since the team began in 2018 and even in that short time, she has seen interest in the women’s game go through the roof.
Just three years ago, the title decider was staged at an athletics stadium in Manchester.
TW Stadium was the venue in 2019 and tomorrow’s Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final - when Rhinos defend the trophy against St Helens - will be played at Emerald Headingley, in front of what is expected to be a record crowd.
“It’s going to be massive,” Beevers predicted.
“It will definitely be one to remember.
“It’s already going to be a record-breaking crowd for the women’s game and I think that’s immense.
“When you look back to the Grand Final in 2018, the crowd was small, but to us it was massive.
“The majority of that was families, but this weekend it’ll be parents with their little girls coming to watch, it’ll be people who are fans of rugby in general - not just the women’s game - and I think with it being at Leeds it is going to be great for the sport’s development. I am really excited.”
The showpiece will be televised live on Sky Sports, who provided similar coverage for both semi-finals.
Highlights have been broadcast all season and Beevers revealed: “I can walk down the street in Leeds and people will say ‘good try at the weekend’ or ‘nice win’.
“That happens occasionally now. It is a big shock, a lot of the time I am thinking ‘I can’t believe this is happening’.
“I think it is only going to happen more, especially as more games are televised.
More - Fran Goldthorpe targets another Grand Final success with Leeds Rhinos Women“It is amazing it is growing that much. A little recognition in the street can show you how big it is getting around Leeds.
“It is phenomenal for young girls to be able to see the development of the game and look up to players and think ‘that’s where I want to be’.
“I didn’t have that when I was younger.”
Tomorrow’s final sees the reigning champions take on the current Challenge Cup and league leaders’ shield holders.
Saints are unbeaten in 2021 and inflicted Rhinos’ only loss, in a Cup semi-final.
It has been a difficult year for Rhinos, but Beevers is confident they can shock the hot favourites.
“We’ve been very unfortunate this season with the amount of injuries we’ve had, but that’s no excuse,” she said.
“Each player we’ve had come through the academy to take those spaces has deserved their spot.
“Every one of them has stepped up so I think we’ve every chance of upsetting the odds and getting the win.”
Beevers accepts Rhinos will need to play better than in their semi-final win over York City Knights, when they trailed 14-4 at half-time.
“We have three quotes we say a lot,” she said. “It’s ‘relentless’, ‘determination’ and ‘accountability’.
“I think the determination somehow just got lost in the day; the fact it was a semi-final, live on TV, got to a lot of people.
“But we have done it now, we have got past the nervous stage. We are in a big game, at Headingley and we’ll have the supporters to help us.
“I don’t know what can give us more determination than that.”
Leeds are also battle-hardened after a series of tough games.
Beevers said: “When the league split [into top and bottom-five] that has been a big contribution to the women’s game growing.
“At the end of the day, you have got to think about the World Cup and how to make the league competitive for that.
“When we split the league, it was always a competition and I’m sure the lower teams thought the same - it was better for them to progress without getting run over every week.
“It has been better for everyone. The close games have got us to this point and now we’ve got the biggest one of them all.”
Leeds Rhinos: from Beevers, Robinson, Kerrigan, Goldthorp, Butcher, Winfield-Hill, A Johnson, Bennett, Staveley, Frain, Nuttall, Priim, Oldroyd, Gaines, Hulme, Murray, E Johnson, McCallion, Hornby, Lockwood, Watson.
St Helens: from Cunningham, Rotheram, Williams, Hardcastle, Burke, Harris, Whitfield, Jones, Birchall, E Rudge, Crowl, B Stott, D Stott, Akrigg, Travis, Roberts, Bush, Partington, Woosey.
Referee: Aaron Moore (Wigan).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.