The switch from Rhinos’ previous home venue of Weetwood Sports Park is part of a three year plan to “significantly raise the profile and standards” of their women’s team from 2022.
The club say they will be putting extra investment into the side’s infrastructure and support services, with the men’s backroom staff - including coach Richard Agar and team manager Jason Davidson - offering their backing.
Rhinos’ women were beaten by treble-winners St Helens in the last four of this year’s Challenge Cup and the Grand Final, as well as finishing second to them on the league table - ending the campaign without silverware for the first time since being formed in 2018.
Rhinos were ravaged by injuries throughout 2021, but their 28-0 Grand Final defeat highlighted the gap Saints have opened as the competition’s dominant side.
They are expected to remain strong next term and there will be increased competition from teams including York City Knights - who have recruited heavily from 2019 league leaders Castleford Tigers - and reigning Shield champions Huddersfield Giants.
“We are very proud of the progress and achievements of our Women’s Super League squad over the past four years and we now want to accelerate their development with extra investment in their infrastructure and support services,” Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said.
“Next season will be phase one of the plan and the squad will benefit from increased physio’ and medical support, along with player welfare provision and nutritional expertise.
“The club will tap into their partnership with Leeds Beckett University with Professor Ben Jones overseeing the strength and conditioning programme and Rhinos team manager Jason Davidson taking on a supporting role.
“The women’s squad will share the Kirkstall training complex with the Rhinos men’s squad and Richard Agar has offered the support of himself and his coaching team.”
New staff will also be recruited for Rhinos’ women’s academy programme as Leeds aim to tap into the next generation of players.
Rhinos have already strengthened their squad with the addition of former Woman of Steel Georgia Roche, Jasmine Earnshaw Cudjoe and Emma Lumley, all from Castleford.
Coach Lois Forsell pledged: “We are really keen to develop and grow the game.
“This is something that will take time, but we are committed to doing while competing at the top in the Women’s Super League.
“2021 was a difficult year for all clubs and as we prepare for 2022 we are already seeing some positive changes for us.”
Last year’s Grand Final attracted a record crowd and Forsell stressed: “Through my work with Leeds Rhinos Foundation we will also continue our support for the women’s and girls’ game at grassroots level and we hope we can create more opportunities for girls to play, with interest in the game greater than ever before.
“It was fantastic to see 4,500 fans attend the Grand Final at Headingley in October and we know the women’s game is going to continue to grow.
“We are pleased the club are showing this commitment to the women’s team and the academy and we are excited about the future.”
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