Leeds Rhinos England stars chased by National Women's Rugby League clubs: decision soon on Aussie move

Leeds Rhinos are waiting to hear if two of their top women’s players will be joining clubs in Australia this year.
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Full-back/centre Fran Goldthorp and stand-off Georgia Roche are both understood to have been targeted by National Women's Rugby League (NRLW) clubs after impressing for England during the recent World Cup.

But Rhinos, the reigning Betfred Women’s Super League champions, are preparing to confirm several new signings and coach Lois Forsell is confident they have enough talent to cope if key players do move on.

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“There’s two England international players who have been approached,” Forsell confirmed.

Fran Goldthorp's World Cup form for England has attracted interest from Aussie clubs. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com.Fran Goldthorp's World Cup form for England has attracted interest from Aussie clubs. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com.
Fran Goldthorp's World Cup form for England has attracted interest from Aussie clubs. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com.
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“There have been conversations and discussions. The NRLW salary cap only got finalised last week and a couple of players could potentially be going to the NRL, we just don’t know until the back end of this week or early next week when offers are given.”

Though the NRLW is a professional competition - and recognised as the best in the world - any English players would have to weigh up the financial benefits against giving up studies or a job in this country.

Forsell said: “We have got a bigger squad this year because I am aware we won’t know until late-January whether players are leaving or staying.

Rhinos stand-off Georgia Roche has attracted interest from Aussie clubs. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.Rhinos stand-off Georgia Roche has attracted interest from Aussie clubs. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.
Rhinos stand-off Georgia Roche has attracted interest from Aussie clubs. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.
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“We have planned so if they go we will be okay. If they do go, we’ll wish them all our best. It is a great opportunity and they will have the backing of the club.”

One player who could be heading the other way is New Zealand loose-forward Georgia Hale, whose partner Sam Lisone is an off-season signing for Rhinos’ men’s side.

Hale confirmed during the World Cup she is keen to join Rhinos in some capacity, but Forsell said nothing has yet been agreed.

Half-back Courtney Winfield-Hill, who was Leeds’ captain from 2018 to last season, retired after the World Cup, but Rhinos have been linked with her England teammate Amy Hardcastle, who spent the past two seasons at St Helens.

Forsell is also close to confirming her backroom team for the new campaign, after previous assistants Dave and Anthony Gibbons stepped down following last year’s Grand Final success against York.