A SEMI-FINAL appearance is England’s minimum target in the forthcoming women’s World Cup, according to Leeds-based Lois Forsell.
New Zealand and hosts Australia will be expected to contest the final in Brisbane on December 2, but Forsell – girls’ rugby league development officer for the Leeds Rhinos Foundation – reckons England can go all the way in the eight-team event.
“Every competition you go to it is important to do well,” Forsell insisted.
“Our intention is to go there and give our best and we are going to try and compete with all the team we come across.”
An England win – or appearance in the final – would have benefits far beyond the tournament itself, Forsell believes.
She added: “Hopefully we will have a positive tournament and that will help spread the hype around women’s rugby league at the moment.
“We will take each game at a time; we know it is going to be tough with the weather and the turnaround between games is only two days, but I think every team goes into a tournament wanting to win it.
“We want to win the World Cup and that’s our aim. Hopefully we’ll get to the semi-final stage, then we’ll start to look at it a bit differently.
“We’ll have done the basic job and then it will be ‘let’s go on with the job we are here to do’.”
England, will fly to Australia on Friday. They begin their campaign against Papua New Guinea on November 16, face Australia three days later and complete their pool matches against Cook Islands on November 22.
The group stages and semi-finals, on November 26, will be played at Cronulla Sharks’ Southern Cross Group Stadium. The decider is a curtain-raiser to the men’s final.
Forsell, who plays at hooker for Bradford Bulls in the women’s Super League, said: “I’ve been on tours to New Zealand and things like that, but when I’ve played in the World Cup it has been in this country.
“It is going to be different going to Australia and seeing what rugby league is like over there and different cultures.
“Having more teams involved is really exciting. In the past it has been Australia, New Zealand, France and England. I wasn’t selected to play against Australia last time so I am really excited to get stuck in if selected for that game.
“We’re also playing Papua New Guinea and Cook Islands and nobody in the world of rugby league knows anything about them so it is exciting for the sport.”
The World Cup will cap a remarkable season for Forsell, who was player of the match when Bulls beat Featherstone Rovers in last month’s Super League Grand Final.
Bulls topped the table and also won the Challenge Cup and Forsell has yet to be on a losing side this year. She said: “I don’t think I’ll take it well if that happens – I want to keep the 100 per cent winning record going.
“Personally I feel like I have had a good season and I am in form, but it is definitely going to be a different ball game at a higher level.”
Domestically, Rhinos, Wigan Warriors and Widnes Vikings have all announced plans to form teams to enter Super League next year and Forsell feels the women’s game has a bright future.
“The Super League is putting women’s rugby league in an exciting place,” she observed. “We are getting clubs behind it as brands and that is going to really improve standards.
“We aren’t full-time athletes, but when you wear that badge you have to respect it. It is going to give girls extra incentive to improve themselves.”