LAST YEAR’S table-toppers Leeds Rhinos are set to finish third in Betfred Women’s Super League, but teenage winger Madison Laverick reckons that is due to the competition getting stronger rather than the Headingley outfit falling away.
With two rounds remaining, including a derby at Mobile Rocket Stadium, Belle Vue tomorrow (3.30pm), Rhinos are seven points adrift of unbeaten leaders Castleford Tigers and four behind second-placed St Helens.
“We haven’t been anywhere near as consistent,” Laverick admitted of Rhinos’ form compared to last year. But she stressed: “I think that’s also because other teams have got better. The competition is different this year, Cas scouted really well and all teams have improved. It is not as easy this year so we are getting challenged more.”
That means Rhinos won’t be taking anything for granted tomorrow. Trinity are bottom of the table, with just one win from 12 games, but Laverick knows several of the Wakefield squad from her time playing open-age winter rugby for Dewsbury Moor and reckons Rhinos are in for a tough 80 minutes.
“Regardless of where they are in the table, they have come on in leaps and bounds,” she said of Trinity who were promoted into Super League from the Championship this year.
“They played Castleford a couple of months ago [in the Coral Challenge Cup] and it was 100-0.
“They played them last week and it was 36-4. That’s an astonishing improvement, they never give up, but we can put some things into practice this weekend for the play-offs.”
Laverick stepped up from Rhinos’ academy to the first team towards the end of 2018 and played in the Grand Final defeat by Wigan Warriors, but suffered a long-term injury in pre-season.
That kept her on the sidelines for the first half of the current campaign, including Rhinos’ Cup final win over Castleford in July, but the 18-year-old has her sights set on a Grand Final appearance next month. “I was out 15 weeks,” Laverick reported.
“I ruptured three of my ankle ligaments, but everything’s fine now – I have been back three or four games and everything’s going great.”