Fran Goldthorp: Leeds Rhinos star nominated for Woman of Steel award
Leeds Rhinos' Fran Goldthorp has been nominated for the Woman of Steel award, currently held by her team captain Courtney Winfield-Hill.
The teenage centre, who has scored 20 tries in 10 games this year, is shortlisted alongside York City Knights’ ex-Castleford duo Rhiannion Marshall and Sinead Peach and the St Helens pair of Jodie Cunningham and Emily Rudge.
The shortlist has been drawn up by an independent panel and the winner will be announced on October 4.
Goldthorp will go up against Marshall - who is a former Leeds player - and Peach in a Betfred Women’s Super League semi-final at St Helens’ TW Stadium tomorrow.
The tie is due to kick-off at 3.30pm, immediately after the first play-off between Saints and Castleford Tigers on the same ground (1.15pm).
Both semi-finals will be broadcast on Sky Sports Mix and it is Rhinos’ first visit to St Helens since beating Tigers there in the 2019 Grand Final, which completed a Cup and league double.
Then aged 16, Goldthorp scored two tries that night in a player of the match performance and she will be a leading attacking threat for Rhinos this weekend.
Leeds’ only defeat on the field of play this year was against Saints in a Challenge Cup semi-final, but injuries and illness meant they had to forfeit the league encounter, handing top spot on the table to the Merseyside club.
“Obviously we would have loved to win that - as well as the Challenge Cup,” Goldthorp said of the league leaders’ shield.
“But it is what it is, you have just got to focus on things you can control and look at the next task.
“That is what we are doing. The ultimate goal is to win the Grand Final and we are working towards that.”
Rhinos crushed York 68-16 in their opening game of the season, but an influx of players from Castleford has made tomorrow’s opponents a much tougher proposition.
Leeds were pushed all the way in a 14-4 win less than a month ago and Goldthorp predicted: “It should be a good game.
“Their attack challenged our defence quite a bit the last time we played them, but we made quite a few errors.
“We’ve been trying to correct them in training and hopefully we should do the job on the weekend.”
This year’s Grand Final will be staged at Emerald Headingley on Sunday, October 10 and Goldthorp described the prospect of playing in a home title decider as “absolutely amazing”.
Saints will be favourites to win tomorrow’s first tie and the teenager would love another crack at them.
“That’s what we are working towards,” she added. “It is always a nice feeling to get one over on them.”
Rhinos did not play at all last year, because of the pandemic and Goldthorpe reflected: “A lot of the girls realised how much you enjoy playing the sport when it’s taken away from you.
“You want to be playing and doing what you enjoy. This season I have massively enjoyed it, we have had a lot of younger players step up because of injuries and it has been a great environment and great learning experience for me.”
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