Leeds Rhinos' Charlotte Booth is relishing ‘trip of a lifetime’ with England

Charlotte Booth in action for England.Charlotte Booth in action for England.
Charlotte Booth in action for England.
THIS MONTH’S ground-breaking tour of Papua New Guinea will be a “life experience” for England’s women’s side – as well as vital preparation for the 2021 World Cup – Leeds Rhinos forward Charlotte Booth reckons.

Booth is among five Leeds players in the 23-strong touring party, alongside Shannon Lacey, Amy Johnson, Danielle Anderson and Caitlin Beevers.

Rhinos’ women’s team coach Adam Cuthbertson is also part of the camp, as assistant to team boss Craig Richards, a former Hunslet Hawks player.

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The squad gathered in Manchester on Wednesday and began their flight to Brisbane this morning.

Charlotte Booth and Courtney Hill with the Challenge Cup.Charlotte Booth and Courtney Hill with the Challenge Cup.
Charlotte Booth and Courtney Hill with the Challenge Cup.

Booth, 26, did not feature for England during last month’s World Cup Nines, but those who were on duty in Sydney – including Anderson and Beevers – were on home soil for little more than a week before heading back to the southern hemisphere.

England will spend a week in Queensland before jetting to Papua New Guinea – where rugby league is the national sport – for the opening Test in Goroka on Saturday, November 9.

They are in action again a week later in Port Moresby, ahead of Great Britain men’s one-off showdown with PNG.

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England beat PNG 25-4 in the Nines, but the Orchids will be tougher opposition in their home country where the annual November temperature is 28 degrees celsius (82.4 degrees fahrenheit).

Booth, who had an outstanding game in the second-row when Rhinos beat Castleford Tigers in the Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final three weeks ago, believes it will be the trip of a lifetime.

“International tours don’t come up very often so when you get one it’s really exciting to go and experience the atmosphere and the camp life,” she said.

“For someone who’s not paid as an athlete, for the time you are away you are a full professional athlete and that includes being looked after, being in camp, the nutrition and strength and conditioning – everything that comes with being a full-time athlete.

“It is really nice in that respect.”

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The tour follows the model set by England Knights last year and, in similar fashion, is part of preparations for the next World Cup, due to kick off at Emerald Headingley in 24 months’ time.

“We’ve got a week’s camp in Brisbane so we’ll get to use Brisbane Broncos’ old training ground and the gym there, which will be amazing,” Booth said.

“Then we fly over to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. I saw a quote which said something like ‘there’s two things that are important in life [in PNG] – one is God and two is rugby league’.

“That sounds like my kind of country. I am not religious, but the second one, I think culturally it is going to be such an experience.

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“You’re going to experience so many insights, not just in rugby, but in life in general.”

Booth has played for England in France and was a member of the 2017 World Cup squad in Australia, but reckons this tour shows how far the women’s game has come.

“It’s never been done before,” she added. “We have built upon 2017, last year was a France tour and this year it’s Papua New Guinea. It is really good, some of the girls have just come back from the Nines and for them to be going off on a second tour, it is phenomenal.

“A few years ago we were lucky to go out to France, so it is definitely building towards 2021.”