LAST WEEKEND was one of highs and lows. Saturday was fantastic, being part of an historic day for Rhinos’ women’s team and a brilliant event for the sport.
Sunday, not so good.
Women’s finals day went really well, as an occasion as well as for us as a team.
I saw a bit of the Shield match and that was a good game, then our Challenge Cup final against Castleford lived up to all the hype.
I wrote last week about how much it would mean to us as a club to win some silverware in our first year, but for me, the big thing going forward is how much room for improvement there is in women’s rugby league.
It is a brilliant product as anyone who was at Halliwell Jones Stadium last weekend or watched the live stream will have seen.
The women’s game is a brilliant product as anyone who was at Halliwell Jones Stadium last weekend or watched the live stream will have seen.Adam Cuthbertson
I don’t think there is anything wrong with the skill levels or the desire shown by either team – although you can always improve – but the challenge now for the Rugby Football League (RFL) and the clubs is to really stand behind the women’s game and to continue to help it grow.
The finals were outstanding games, but unfortunately they were let down by playing them in Warrington when there were four Yorkshire teams involved on the day.
We would have preferred to play in Yorkshire and I’d have had no problem tossing a coin with Cas to stage the event.
Then it would still have been played at a Super League ground and a lot more people would have turned up.
The attendance last week was 1,022 and I think we had more than that at Headingley when we played Cas in the league at the end of May.
Myself as a coach, I have bought right into it and all my staff have and the dedication of the girls is outstanding.
They don’t get paid to turn up to train and play, but they put their heart and soul into it.
They just need more backing. They deserve it and it’ll be good for the game.
Women’s rugby league can open up the sport to a new and wider audience.
The women’s game and Super League has been going for a while now, but it has gone to a new level this year.
We have got to build on that.
I know Leeds will, with Gary Hetherington in charge, but it is up to the governing body and other clubs to give it the same backing.
So winning a Challenge Cup final on Saturday was a high, but losing a Challenge Cup semi-final 24 hours later was a real downer. I’ve found myself saying this a lot this year. We had everything to play for and we fell well short.
We’re not in a good place at the moment and we can either sulk and feel sorry for ourselves, or go out and do something about it.
In a way it is similar to last year.
There’s no trophy up for grabs this time, but we are fighting for our lives in Super League and we have to be very professional in our approach to every game. We went through this in 2016 and said then we never wanted to do it again. It is a scary situation for Super League teams to be in, at the bottom and playing off against relegation.
If you don’t get it right and treat the competition and the opposition with respect it can go pear shaped pretty quickly. Toulouse will have been watching our results and last week’s game and they are going to fancy their chances. They will come to Headingley thinking they can turn us over.
I’ve seen a bit of video on them and they are obviously a good side who are playing well and have a lot of confidence, but as far as we are concerned it is about us and getting our game right.
We have got the side and the ability and it is all about putting it together on game day which we haven’t been doing enough this year.
It will be good to get Stevie Ward, Dom Crosby and Anthony Mullally back. We missed them all last week, especially in the second half when we were down to just one sub – and I was struggling with my hamstring.
It is not an excuse, but our pack has been devastated this year and that has made things even tougher.
In the last 10 minutes of the semi-final all the forwards had done big minutes and there was no one to come on and help out. It will be a real boost to get some healthy bodies back around the camp and just what we need right now.