'Their skill's really good': coach impressed as Leeds Rhinos academy and women faced off in training
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“We had an opposed session against Leeds Beckett University on Tuesday and on Thursday we had an opposed/joint session with the women’s team,” academy coach Tony Smith said.
“That was really good, it is good to feel connected to other people who are also part of the Leeds Rhinos brand.”
Rhinos are the reigning Women’s Super League champions and the academy also won their Grand Final in 2022.
“The women are at a good level,” Smith added. “They are well coached by Lois Forsell and her staff and their skill is really good.
“It is like the next level regarding training and it’s good to expose the players to that kind of thing.
“It’s not full-on, like a game, but it’s different to the normal week-in, week-out practice and it’s good to practice under pressure as well, against different people.
“It will happen more often, we can help them out and they can help us out - we are all after the same thing and working for the same club.”
Hannah Butcher has been confirmed as captain of Rhinos women who kick off their competitive campaign with a Grand Final rematch against York at Headingley on Sunday, April 9.
Rhinos’ academy were due to begin their season against Wakefield Trinity two weeks ago, but that was postponed because of a frozen pitch.
They will be aiming to continue the lower grades’ positive start after Rhinos reserves won their opening two matches, against Bradford Bulls and Castleford Tigers and the scholarship began with a 70-0 victory at Hull KR.
Smith said: “We’ve had a good three months’ preparation. We’re looking forward to getting our season up and running and seeing some competitive rugby for the younger guys who haven’t been playing in the reserves.”
Rhinos will be without new signing Lewis Peacock and half-back Fergus McCormack who have been representing their school, Woodhouse Grove, in a rugby union sevens tournament in London this week.
Rhinos’ 17 to visit Newcastle is: Leo Aliyu, Freddie Brennan-Jones, Mason Corbett, Kyden Frater, Tobias Gibson, Harrison Gilmore, Jack Johnson, Ben Littlewood, Riley Lumb, Zach McSwiney, Blake Morgan, Dylan Proud, Jack Smith, Tayler Stephenson, Harry Taylor, Neil Tchamambe, Shane Tuohey.