TWO-TIME CHALLENGE Cup champions, Leeds Rhinos, are turning their eyes to the next big prize, but star forward Danika Priim insists they won’t get ahead of themselves.
Rhinos are third in Women’s Super League, but caused an upset with a 16-10 win over leaders Castleford Tigers to retain the Challenge Cup.
The treble eluded them last year when they also finished as league leaders, but were beaten by Wigan Warriors in the Grand Final.
The challenge now is to go one better and Priim stressed: “Never say never, but we will take each week as it comes, that’s how we work.”
She added: “We have got Cas in a couple of weeks at Headingley and who knows what will happen then.
“A week at a time and we’ll see how we go.”
Tigers, who had beaten Wakefield Trinity 100-0 at the semi-finals stage, did not score in the second half of the final and Priim, a front-rower, reckons if Rhinos continue that defensive effort for the rest of the campaign they will be contenders.
“We were camped on our line for a good 10-15 minutes and they didn’t break us,” she noted.
“What we have been working on works.
“Defence wins games and that’s what happened.”
Priim also paid tribute to Adam Cuthbertson, twice a Challenge Cup winning player with Rhinos’ men and now as coach with the women.
“He remained convinced Rhinos could retain the trophy despite Tigers’ better league form and managed to get that message across to his players. Priim said: “Cuthbo has done a great job there.
“He made it about us, he told us to ignore everything – all the media and all the social, which is phenomenal at the minute, all the coverage.
“We have trained so well the last two weeks and he has just been pushing us to work on our game. That’s all it was. We didn’t concentrate on Cas, we know they have got stand-out players and some key girls who are going to be in the World Cup squad in 2021 but, if you concentrate on your own game, it pays dividends.”
Priim missed out on Bradford Bulls’ 2017 triumph against Featherstone Rovers and was also sidelined last year when Rhinos beat Castleford to win the trophy for the first time.
She made her comeback from an anterior cruciate ligament injury earlier this season and played a key role in Rhinos’ victory at Bolton as an impact substitute.
“I have worked really hard for three years,” she recalled.
“To watch two Challenge Cup finals and to get to a third and finally play, I think I put in a good performance but, for the girls, we came in as Challenge Cup holders and the pressure was to keep it.
“We managed to do that, but we went in as underdogs. They nilled us earlier in the season, but we just had to play our own game and that’s what we did.”
This year’s final was staged as the first part of a triple-header with the men’s Cup semi-finals and Priim described the occasion as”phenomenal”.
She said: “I have been so lucky this season – I have played at Headingley and Bolton. The game is growing.
“Three years ago the final was played at a little ground in York and now it’s being staged at a big stadium.
“It is a dream come true.”