BY ANGELA POWERS
The announcement last week that the women’s game was to have its own Super League was greeted with a mixture of surprise, curiosity and one or two raised eyebrows.
But anyone who steals a glance towards the new-look Premier Division competition would see that the clues are there. Alongside established teams like Thatto Heath St Helens and Featherstone ladies, are outfits allied to Super League Clubs – two new ones this season are Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity. Surely a Super League would be the next obvious step?
Right at the top of the men’s Super League are Castleford Tigers, with coach Daryl Powell leading a side that are the entertainers of the competition. A model for the tigresses to emulate, and judging by the result against Leigh Miners Rangers Ladies this weekend, they are already on track.
Head coach Lindsay Anfield, like Daryl Powell, is a seasoned player herself, a former England international with high expectations of her newly-formed side. They got into pre-season training early, so keen were they to get ready for this new venture, and with the facilities at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle at their disposal, they can focus on the rugby, not the nuts and bolts of finding somewhere to train week in, week out.
They kicked off with a win in their first outing, beating Wigan St Pats 26-18, and then on Sunday overwhelmed a determined but outplayed Leigh Miners Rangers side 52-0.
“A new team is one thing, but the average age of these girls is about 18, 19,” said a contented Anfield after the final whistle. “I have got a lot of my England students who I wanted to keep together and they’ve been good but it’s their attitude more than anything. They haven’t got a lot of experience but they are working hard in training and hard away from rugby, which I would argue some of the other teams, the better teams, don’t do as much of and maybe that’s why we have had two good games to start.
Anfield’s experience at international level, having had access in the past to the best training and support facilities the sport can provide, has given her an insight into what can be achieved with the the right attitude and approach.
“They do get some hammer from me to be fair and they know my standards are really high. Last week we were leading 22-nil against Wigan and we just didn’t finish them off but they knew today they had to perform well to be in with any chance of playing next week against Bradford.
“The halves took a bit of hammer last week because they just weren’t creating anything and today they created a lot and the forwards created a good platform. But Leigh weren’t a walk over today by any means, they never gave up and they were a threat in attack so it was a good test for us.”
Bradford next weekend will give them a better benchmark, says Anfield, but Thatto Heath St Helens as the champions will still be the ones to beat. But so far so good, she reflected; a thoughtful, articulate and highly experienced coach with a knack for motivation.
No doubt when Super League is launched, it’ll be the likes of her and the great players of the not too distant past who will be delivering results and developing the stars of the future. And judging by Sunday’s performance, they’re already shining in the here and now.
Main picture: Anfield talking to her troops after the final whistle. Below: Leigh and Cas in action on Sunday March 26, the home side, LMR, in yellow. Please feel free to share images, but if possible credit @Her_RL