Leeds Rhinos women ready to rip in when Super League returns after 18-month layoff

After a break of 555 days, Betfred Women’s Super League will return next month - and Leeds Rhinos forward Danika Priim is gearing up for an explosive start.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 5:45 am
Danika Priim in action for Leeds during the 2019 season. Picture by Garry Beevers.

The competition has been on hold since Rhinos’ Grand Final win over Castleford Tigers on October 11, 2019.

Teams had completed a full pre-season when all rugby league was suspended a year ago, days before the 2020 women’s campaign was due to begin.

It has been a long, frustrating layoff and Priim reckons teams will be ready to rip into each other when competitive matches resume on April 18.

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Rhinos celebrate their Grand Final win in October, 2019. They haven't played since. Picture by Richard Sellers/PA.

“It’s absolutely wicked,” she said of finally getting the green light.

“It’s great news, we were on the edge all last year, not knowing if we were going to start at the drop of a hat.

“We were training hard, not for nothing, but we didn’t get a chance to put all our hard work into practice.

“Now we have had an extended pre-season, a whole 18 months and I can’t wait to get ball in hand properly and get on the field.”

The women’s game has come on in leaps and bounds over recent years and Priim believes the standard will remain high, despite the lengthy break.

“It has given the girls who had niggles and injuries extended time to get fit and get really ready for it,” she said.

“At Leeds, the way they have brought us back is the last few weeks we’ve been doing a lot of what they call pre-hab’ stuff - our training has been quite specific, but quite low level.

“It is a lot of injury prevention-style work, but everyone is in the same boat, apart from the England girls who have been training quite regularly.

“A couple of girls have managed to have shoulder operations and get themselves back up, fighting fit, ready to go.”

Rhinos will be under new management this year. Former England player Lois Forsell was forced to retire at the end of 2019 because of a knee injury and has taken over as coach from Adam Cuthbertson, who guided Leeds to back-to-back Challenge Cup final victories and their Super League triumph.

Forsell is expecting her first child, but Forsell said: “She is still working around everything and still going strong.

“Lois being Lois, there won’t be much that keeps her away. Family or not, she is very driven and very dedicated - one of the most dedicated coaches I have ever been coached by.

“Lois is a bit like a stick of rock, if you cut her in half it would say ‘Leeds Rhinos’ down the middle. She is going to go to the very last minute she can do.”

Rhinos will face York City Knights in the opening round. Tigers take on Featherstone Rovers the same afternoon, with both games being staged behind closed doors at Weetwood Sports Park.

Priim said: “It is good to get the fixtures and the venues sorted. They are going to be using central venues and I think that is a great idea.

“It’s a shame [games will be behind closed doors], but the important thing is getting back and getting playing again.”