Women’s Super League Grand Final: Raw recruit Abby Eatock adds to Leeds Rhinos’ firepower
LEEDS RHINOS have discovered a secret weapon in serving soldier Abby Eatock.
The 18-year-old could make only her fourth appearance for Rhinos in Friday’s Betfred Women’s Super League Grand Final against Castleford Tigers at Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens.
Eatock has already scored six tries for Rhinos, including a brace in last Sunday’s semi-final victory at Saints. Rhinos trailed 14-4 at the break, but hit back to level the scores before Eatock surged over the line in stoppage time to seal a dramatic win.
That sparked wild celebrations among her team-mates, but Eatock, who joined the club last month, admitted the importance of the try didn’t sink in for her until later.
“I have only been playing [for Rhinos] for a few games,” she said. “It mattered a lot more to the girls than what I originally thought.
“I thought it was just a try, but then it clicked what it meant when the final whistle went. It is amazing to be in a Grand Final.”
Beating Saints was a bonus for Eatock, who is from Wigan and has been playing rugby since she was five.
The pacy outside-back has already finished The Army’s season as their top try scorer and Woman of Steel.
She ran in a hat-trick when The Army beat Super League side York City Knights, at Castleford, in the Challenge Shield final in July and that performance, streamed live on the Rugby Football League website, did not go unnoticed.
“The Rhinos saw me playing and the next thing I knew I got a phone call asking me to come and play for them,” said Eatock, who is based at Catterick, in North Yorkshire.
“I’ve played for them in the last few games and I’m doing all right, but I am a Wigan fan so I get a bit of stick for that.”
Eatock scored a hat-trick on her debut against Wakefield Trinity and also crossed when Leeds completed their league campaign with a win over Wigan Warriors.
She played for The Army as a full-back, but has England’s Caitlin Beevers ahead of her in that position at Leeds. “The last few games I’ve been playing at centre,” she said.
“I played one game at full-back as cover for Caitlin, but she’s amazing at full-back so I’m happy to play centre or wing.”
Rhinos have beaten Tigers in each of the past two Challenge Cup finals, but lost to Wigan in the 2018 title decider.
Castleford finished five points clear of third-placed Leeds in the league table and beat them twice in the regular season.
“Hopefully I get selected and everything goes to plan,” Eatock said of Friday’s showpiece. “I’ve not even seen Cas play, I don’t know anything about them so I need to have a look at them. I know Leeds beat them in the Challenge Cup and it should be a good game.
“I am looking forward to it, we played there on Sunday and it’s a good pitch.
“Obviously it’s not too far from Wigan so a lot of people [friends and family] will be getting down to watch.”