Adam Cuthbertson: Women’s team have ‘taken on the baton’ – and run with it!

Leeds Rhinos women's team.
Leeds Rhinos women's team.
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FROM A personal and team point of view, it has been a heck of a long season.

It seems like forever since we were taking off with hope of challenging Melbourne in the World Club Challenge.

Leeds Rhinos' Mikolaj Oledzki is tackled by Warrington Wolves' George King.

Leeds Rhinos' Mikolaj Oledzki is tackled by Warrington Wolves' George King.

We struggled to put a team on the paddock that night and that has been the case throughout the year.

That’s not an excuse at all, but it is one reason why we’ve had such a disappointing season. We have brought some good young talent through who have gained valuable experience, but we just seemed to fall short most weeks.

Off the back of having such a successful campaign in 2017 maybe the Melbourne trip wasn’t great for us and maybe we did not prepare well enough going into the 2018 season.

That’s all in hindsight, but one thing I do know is when you go through these very tough situations you have got to learn from them and buy into being better in the years to come.

The season hasn’t been up to the Leeds Rhinos standard set over the past 14 years and the way it ended hurt us.

Adam Cuthbertson

The season hasn’t been up to the Leeds Rhinos standard set over the past 14 years and the way it ended hurt us.

But the biggest disappointment after losing to Toronto last Friday was not being able to send the boys who are leaving off on a good note and not rewarding the fans for their support during a year that has been very hard to watch.

From spending time with the boys last weekend I know everyone has bought into coming back at a specific date for pre-season so we can have a really solid preparation for the 2019 season together.

That has not happened for a long time, definitely not during my time at Leeds.

Cameron Smith.

Cameron Smith.

Usually we’ve had boys away on England duty and the overseas players have been away at Christmas, but this time we are going to get a longer build-up and we will be putting that to good use.

We’ve got two new signings that we know about and from what I understand there will be more fresh faces coming in.

That’s not my department, but I think it will be good if we can add some experienced players to make the squad deeper.

It is good to have young boys like Mik Oledzki and Cam Smith coming through, but the more experienced depth there is to call on when we’ve got injuries, the better we’ll be.

I have still got my rugby head on because the Leeds Rhinos women haven’t finished their season yet.

They picked up the Super League leaders’ shield last weekend and we face Castleford Tigers – the team we beat in the Challenge Cup final – in a semi-final in two days’ time. This is an absolutely huge game and if you’re a Leeds Rhinos fan and you are in the city on Sunday why would you not go along to Weetwood to see if we can make more history by reaching our first Grand Final?

The treble is on, but Castleford are a fantastic team and we know we will have to be on the top of our game to beat them.

There’s only seven teams in Women’s Super League at the moment, but the top-four are all good sides and very evenly matched which is what makes the competition so strong.

I honestly think any of us – Cas, Wigan and Saints – are capable of getting to the Grand Final the following Saturday and winning the trophy.

The girls had a good win at York last week, under the circumstances.

We had a few players missing and it was an opportunity to give some of the younger players a run, but we’ve been focusing on the semi-final all week and I’m confident the girls will give a good account of themselves.

As the coach I was really proud when four of the Leeds side were named in the England squad for the Test in France at the end of the month.

Amy Johnson is a transfer from rugby union and she has done really well adapting to rugby league and Dannielle Anderson has been really influential this season.

Caitlin Beevers is only 16 and she’s taken the rugby league world by storm.

She was the first female to referee at Wembley earlier this year, she has been brilliant for us and now she has got an England call-up.

She is good now and she’s only going to get better.

Rhiannion Marshall was at Featherstone last year; she wasn’t getting picked, but she has come to Leeds, got stuck in and shown a fantastic attitude to work on her game and establish herself as one of our top players.