How every team shapes up ahead of the 2020 Women's Super League season
Posted: Sunday 26th April 2020 - 1:00 AM
Approximately 170 days after the 2019 Grand Final, the eagerly anticipated 2020 season was set to be upon us.
By Andrea Mena
This year the competition was heading into its fourth season with two new teams Warrington Wolves and Huddersfield Giants joining the pack to make it a ten-team league! Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic the season has taken a set back and it is still unknown when the first ball will be kicked.
Despite the current disruption the Tigresses have been working hard in self isolation and are not letting these current setbacks dip their form. The team have been taking part in regular online video meetings which have helped boost team moral and have also kept the players in contact over this period.
So, as there are currently no games to report on, we’ve decided to take a look at how each team recruited during the off season, look back on last season, and provide fans with a comprehensive preview ahead of the new campaign.
Let’s start with one of the Super League debutant teams - Huddersfield Giants. The side finished fourth in the Championship but made it to the play-off final against Warrington where they lost out 36-4. However, thanks to the new Super League structure both teams have been promoted.
The Giants have held open trials in order to add to their squad. These trials featured players from the Championship, League One, RFU clubs as well as members of the armed services. The squad is lead by head coach James Westerby and captained by experienced player Bethan Oates; both will be looking to lead their squad into a successful first season in the Women’s Super League.
Another team making their inaugural appearance in Super League are Warrington Wolves. The Wire finished top last season in the Championship with an impressive 15 wins from 16 games; scoring 648 points in the process.
The Wolves have recruited well in the off season making numerous signings. They have also recruited 30 girls into their U19 pathway programme, meaning if the squad draws thin during the season, there will be plenty of talented players eagerly waiting in the wings to make their Super League debut.
Trinity are gearing up for their second season in Super League. The team recorded one win in Super League last season against York City Knights in a narrow 6-10 victory. They have recruited Wigans Joanie Aspin as well as other talented players. It will be exciting to see how Wakefield perform this year after a season of Super League now under their belt.
York City Knights
York will be looking to build on from last season as they look to become an established Super League side. Last season York finished 7th in the league and overcame Wakefield in a 20-4 win. Despite a heavy defeat to Castleford in a recent pre-season friendly, the team will be hoping to introduce a number of new players into the top tier of our game.
Bradford were the first team to be crowned Women’s Super League champions in 2017. The Bulls finished last season in 6th with four wins from 13 and they ended their campaign just four points short of the top four.
Bradford will be looking to battle against the top sides this season, looking to secure a place in the top half of the table.
Our nearest and dearest local rivals held open trials at the beginning of the year looking to add to their squad and have recruited Georgia Cutt and Chloe Billington amongst many other talented names.
Rovers have retired the no12 shirt after the tragic death of Natalie Harrowell who passed away in December last year. Rovers finished last season in 5th place and should be in a position to challenge for a top spot this season.
The 2018 Women’s Super League champions have lost their former captain and half back Gemma Walsh as she has jumped ships to St Helens.
The Warriors sealed a play-off spot last season but lost out in the Super League semi final 34- 4 to the Tigresses. Wigan will be looking to challenge for the Super League title again this season however, with the level of competition increasing this is certainly easier said than done.
Leeds finished third last season but, the Rhinos came out with the most silverware winning both the Challenge Cup and Super League Grand Final.
Head coach Adam Cuthbertson has left his role and former England international Lois Forsell has taken over the position. The Rhinos will be looking to battle for the top spot this season.
The Lancashire team finished last season in second and were the only team to overcome the Tigresses during the regular season with a narrow 20-14 victory.
Saints missed out on a home Grand Final last year after being beaten 18-14 by Leeds in the semi-final. Ahead of this year's campaign, Saints have recruited halfback Gemma Walsh as previously mentioned. Nevertheless, apart from that one signing, it seems head coach Derek Hardman is sticking faithful to his side which secured him a solid second place finish last season.
And finally, let’s take a look at what’s been going on behind the scenes with Cas during the off season. As we all know the Tigresses recorded their most successful season last year which included lifting the League Leaders shield with a game in hand, as well as attending two major finals.
Cas have retained most of their shield winning squad and have injected some firepower as they look to kick on and improve in the 2020 season.
Bradford’s Leah Jones is one of the new additions this season. Jasmine Bell is another. The 21-year-old previously played for Featherstone Rovers and also has union experience. Another union player who has changed disciplines is Sophie Todd.
The Tigresses also welcomed a number of new youngsters into the side with the likes of Eva Izumi, Libby Priestley and Kaitlyn Varley joining.
Four of our Tigresses - Jasmine Cudjoe, Hollie Dodd, Lucy Eastwood and Esme Reynolds - all headed to the south of France at the beginning of February in a historic loan move with Deesses Catalanes. The girls all thoroughly enjoyed the trip and learnt during their time away.
Before the UK lockdown measures, all the Tigresses had been working hard in training sessions under the watchful eye of Lindsay Anfield and her coaching staff made up on Callum Windley, Marie Colley, Stacey Emmonds, Jo Knowles and Ryan McNamee. At this moment in time, players are continuing to train at home.
We certainly can’t wait for the 2020 season to finally get under way! We hope all our fans and supporters are keeping safe during this tough time. And we’d like to give a massive shout out to all the NHS staff and key workers who are working so hard during these hard times, we can’t thank you enough!
Castleford Tigers Women would like to give a big shoutout to all the main shirt sponsors: Hillside Childcare, GMB Union, Tracked Spider Solutions, Yorkshire Flight Simulator, Anthony Higgins Transport, Castle Commercial Cleaning Limited, B&J Goulding, Marra Falcons, Pizza Prima, SB Paving, D&M Family Butchers and the Wakefield Council.
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