'We really want to get there': Caitlin Casey confident as Leeds Rhinos women step up Challenge Cup bid

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Leeds Rhinos can take a step closer to Wembley this weekend in the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup.

Rhinos, the 2018 and 2019 Cup winners and finalists last year, take on Leigh Leopards at Headingley on Saturday.

The final will be held at the national stadium for the first time this season, on men’s cup final day and Rhinos half-back Caitlin Casey says that has given Leeds added incentive to go one better than in 2022.

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“There’s a good atmosphere around all the girls,” Casey said. “It is the first time at Wembley and we really want to get there. We’ve got a few steps first, but I think we can do it.”

Caitlin Casey made her Super League debut for Rhinos in this year's season-opener agianst Yorkl. Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com.Caitlin Casey made her Super League debut for Rhinos in this year's season-opener agianst Yorkl. Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com.
Caitlin Casey made her Super League debut for Rhinos in this year's season-opener agianst Yorkl. Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com.

Rhinos will be hot favourites against Leigh, who play in Super League’s second tier, but Casey insisted: “We can’t take it lightly.

“They are in Super League Division Two, but I saw them play against Featherstone the other week and they looked good.

“They have got some dangerous players. It is a challenge, but I think if we perform as we can we shouldn’t have a problem, but it’s definitely not a walk over.”

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Admission to Saturday’s 1pm kick-off is free, though a collection will be taken in aid of the Rhinos foundation’s women’s and girls’ rugby league development plan.

Caitlin Casey in action for Rhinos agianst York. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Caitlin Casey in action for Rhinos agianst York. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Caitlin Casey in action for Rhinos agianst York. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“The more people that can get down the better,” Casey said. “We are always grateful and the fans really get behind us, so I am looking forward to it.”

The Cup is an opportunity for Rhinos to gain some form after defeats in two of their three Super League fixtures so far.

Casey conceded: “We’ve not had the start to the season we wanted or had in mind. But we’ve had a lot of disruption with players moving in and out and injuries and we’d prefer that to happen at the start of the season rather than the business end.

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“We’ve had a good few weeks at training and we’ve fixed up a few things we needed to improve and we are feeling confident.”

Casey helped Oulton Raidettes to the Championship title last year, as well as playing for Rhinos’ academy, but has big boots to fill following long-serving captain Coutrney Winfield-Hill’s retirement.

She admitted: “It is a big step up, but I am enjoying the challenge and learning week on week.

“It is developing me as a player and I am really enjoying it. The girls have made it easier because I know every one of them has got my back and I can go to them if I need anything.”

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Casey’s reputation as one of the country’s best young players was recognised when she was called into the second-string England Knights squad this week, alongside Leeds’ Jasmine Cudjoe and Izzy Northrop.

“It’s somethingI have been working towards for a few years now,” she said. “To get the opportunity is amazing.

“There’s a lot of talent in the league and it’s a massive opportunity, especially because I am young, to learn from other coaches and staff.”