Leeds Rhinos boost pack with Shona Hoyle signing from Women's Super League rivals St Helens
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The move reunites the 30-year-old Halifax-born forward with her England and former Saints teammate Amy Hardcastle. Hoyle, who can play prop, second-row or loose forward, scored at Wembley against Leeds in Saints’ 2023 Challenge Cup final triumph and was nominated for the Woman of Steel award.
Hoyle, who has been part of the England squad since 2017 and played in last Saturday’s 60-0 defeat of Wales at AMT Headingley, said: “I am really excited and glad to be back in Yorkshire.
“I had a good season with St Helens and I’m now looking to bring some of my experience to Leeds. One of the things that influenced my decision to join Leeds was to have more of a life balance. I work in Bradford so it’s a closer commute to Leeds and it will be good to be back in my home county representing the Rhinos.”
She added: “I have played with Lois [Forsell, Rhinos’ coach] at Bradford Bulls so I am looking forward to being coached by her. I think we will challenge each other and hopefully we will bring the best out in one another.
“It will be nice to play alongside Amy again and some of the girls I know from England too. There are some talented young players coming through at Leeds and it will be good to work with them and help them develop their games.”
Forsell hailed Hoyle as “a great signing for us”. She said: “I played with her at Bradford and England and we have been on the receiving end of some of her performances with St Helens this year.
“She brings a lot of aggression and physicality and that’s what we are looking for, to be a little bit tougher in and around the middle and I think it will add some real competition for us in the pack.
“Shona’s honours, including Woman of Steel nominee this year, speak volumes and I am really excited to get her signing over the line and to work with her in pre-season later in the year.”
Hoyle is Rhinos’ third signing for 2024 after York Valkyrie prop Grace Field and full-back Liv Whitehead. She played alongside Hardcastle at the Siddal community club and featured for Featherstone Rovers before a switch to Bradford. She signed for Castleford Tigers in 2019 and moved to Huddersfield Giants three years later, but joined Saints soon afterwards.