Women's Super League - Leeds Rhinos' Sophie Robinson enjoying her rugby again after recovering from horrific injury

Leeds Rhinos' reign as Betfred Women’s Challenge holders may be over, but three-quarter Sophie Robinson has got her love of the game back.

By Peter Smith
Saturday, 12th June 2021, 11:45 am

Tomorrow’s derby against Castleford Tigers, at Wakefield’s Mobile Rocket Stadium, Belle Vue (3.30pm), is Rhinos’ first since their Challenge Cup semi-final defeat by St Helens.

Saints went on to win the trophy last weekend, which was the first major final Rhinos have not been involved in since the team began in 2018.

Robinson played in Leeds’ back-to-back Challenge Cup final wins over Titgers, but missed the 2019 Women’s Super League Grand Final defeat of the same opponents after suffering a fractured tibia and fibula and dislocated ankle during a game against York City Knights that August.

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Leeds Rhinos' Sophie Robinson. Picture by Isabel Pearce/SWpix.com.

It has been a long road, but she feels she is now getting back to where she was before the injury - and despite the defeat, the semi-final was a big step forward.

“I played wing against Saints,” Robinson - normally a centre - said.

“It’s probably the first time I’ve done that since the first season.

“Even though we lost, that was the most enjoyable game I’ve played this season.

“That has given me my confidence back.

“I still lacked it the first couple of games, but I think the Saints game has given me the confidence I needed and I am excited to go into the rest of the season now.”

Robinson admitted: “I didn’t feel like that for the first couple of games.

“After the Saints game I feel like I want to play again, I want to get out there.

“At one point I thought ‘this isn’t for me any more’ so I am glad I have got that out of my system.”

Having had three weeks to dwell on their Cup exit, Robinson says Rhinos are keen to get back on the field and start putting that disappointment behind them.

“We haven’t been training much because we had a Covid outbreak as well,” she revealed.

“It will be interesting, I think all the girls were disappointed with the way they performed in the semi-final.

“Having a bit of time off means we haven’t been able to work on the improvements we need, but it will be good to get out there and hopefully rectify a few things that happened in the semi-final.”

Robinson admitted they felt they let themselves down by not performing on the day.

“That was the disappointing thing,” she said.

“I wasn’t angry, I was just disappointed.

“If you asked every girl I think they’d say we didn’t perform the way we know we can.

“We performed, probably not even at 40 per cent.

“We have got so much left in the tank, we all know that and know we can fix it up.

“That’s a good thing, we know why we didn’t win that game and how to fix it up.”

Rhinos have not played Castleford since beating them in the 2019 Grand Final.

Tigers have been weakened by the loss of five England players, plus coach Lindsay Anfield, to York, but Robinson reckons they remain a major force, despite their Challenge Cup semi-final loss to York.

She said: “Us and Cas is a good game, there’s a good rivalry.

“It’s a local derby and, with the players they have lost, I think the players they’ve got now will step up.

“We can’t underestimate any team this season and we won’t be doing that with Cas.

“I think it will be a good game.”

Wakefield Trinity meet York in the first game of tomorrow’s double-header (noon).

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