Rugby League World Cup: Leeds Rhinos star delighted with England recall

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Leeds Rhinos’ Caitlin Beevers is predicting a Women’s World Cup thriller when England face Papua New Guinea at Headingley on Wednesday (7.30pm).

Both teams are already guaranteed a semi-final place, but their next game will decide who finishes top of the pool and faces the group B runners-up at York next Monday.

England crushed Brazil 72-4 in their opening match before a 54-4 defeat of Canada. PNG saw off Canada 34-12 and were 70-0 victors against Brazil.

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Beevers scored the opening try of the women’s tournament, crossing after just 90 seconds against Brazil at Headingley on November 1, but was rested for the match in Wigan four days later.

Caitlin Beevers, right, lines up during the national anthem before England's win over Brazil, alongside  Emily Rudge and Fran Goldthorp. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com.Caitlin Beevers, right, lines up during the national anthem before England's win over Brazil, alongside  Emily Rudge and Fran Goldthorp. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com.
Caitlin Beevers, right, lines up during the national anthem before England's win over Brazil, alongside Emily Rudge and Fran Goldthorp. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com.

The 21-year-old outside-back, who was player of the match for Rhinos in their Grand Final win over York City Knights two months ago, has been recalled to Wednesday’s 19-player squad and is “very, very excited” at the prospect.

She said: “Papua New Guinea have done the same as us in coming out at full force in the first couple of games of the campaign.

“I think this one should be really interesting and we’ve been working really hard to get to this point.

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“The last two games have been a good warm-up for us, we’ve got all our errors out of the way and we’ll go full force into Papua New Guinea now.”

Rhinos' Courtney Winfield-Hill, seen scoring against Brazil, has impressed for England. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com.Rhinos' Courtney Winfield-Hill, seen scoring against Brazil, has impressed for England. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com.
Rhinos' Courtney Winfield-Hill, seen scoring against Brazil, has impressed for England. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com.

Beevers felt England were “a bit scrappy” against Brazil and “got too excitable” at times, but she insisted: “In the Canada game the girls came out absolutely phenomenally and proved why we deserve to be in this competition and at the top.

“The girls have been working hard and the coaches have been putting a fantastic effort in to make sure we are playing at the best of our ability going into this game.”

Though Beevers admitted to being “really disappointed” not to play against Canada, she stressed: “I massively understand everybody has to play a game and Craig [Richards, England’s coach] has to have a look at the squad he has picked and everyone needs to work for a shirt.

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“I am just happy I’ve managed to regain a shirt for this Wednesday and hopefully it should be a good one for myself.”

England celebrate victory against Brazil. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com.England celebrate victory against Brazil. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com.
England celebrate victory against Brazil. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com.

Rhinos players have made a big impact for England so far, with Fran Goldthorp, Georgia Roche and Courtney Winfield-Hill playing in both matches and retaining their place for round three.

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Keara Bennett featured against Canada and remains in contention, but Zoe Hornby and Dannielle Anderson drop out after making their tournament debut at Wigan.

“I am over the moon for each of them, they all deserve the shirt that’s on their back,” Beevers said of the Leeds contingent.

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“They deserve all the opportunities that come to them. It is all very exciting and I definitely think all the Leeds girls are doing the club proud.”

Another big crowd is expected this week after a record attendance of more than 8,000 watched last week’s opening double-header. That was down on what organisers had expected, but Beever said: “They did a fantastic job to get schools and clubs involved and that really built the profile of the game.

“I am sure more kids and fans will be eager to come back and watch us play a more competitive match.

“That is what we need. Having to shout to be heard over the noise of the crowd was a phenomenal experience and something we didn’t think we’d have to do for a long time.

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“With the first game being at Headingley, it massively put my nerves at ease. It just felt like I was playing in a Leeds game, but with a different group of girls.

“Crowds for the [group B] games in York have been good as well and I think that is absolutely massive for the game.

“If each game we play is inspiring more people to come along and to participate in the sport, we are doing something right.”

Australia and New Zealand meet in their final group game at York on Thursday. Both squads include players from the professional NRL Women’s Premiership (NRLW) and will be a huge step up, whoever England face in the semi-finals.

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Beevers stated: “We know it’s going to be tough. We’ve been watching them with keen interest and making a few notes.

“The games we are playing now are to ensure we are in the best place to be able to play at the highest level.”

Brazil meet Canada in Wednesday’s opening game (5pm).