Leeds Rhinos Women make statement of intent with signing of Georgia Roche

Former Woman of Steel Georgia Roche has joined Leeds Rhinos from Castleford Tigers in a major signing for the club.

The England international is one of the most exciting players in the Women’s Super League.

Stand-off Roche, 21, played in the first-ever Super League season in 2017 with Featherstone Rovers Ladies and was a try-scorer in their Grand Final defeat to Bradford Bulls.

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Since then she has established herself as one of the sport’s leading performers and – after joining Castleford in 2018 – was named the first-ever Woman of Steel and nominated for the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year.

“I am really excited to be joining the club,” said Batley-born Roche, who started her career with Leeds outfit Drighlington.

“I know the team has really high ambitions and expectations.

“I am looking forward to trying to meet them myself and pushing and challenging against the players that are already here to make a mark in that squad.

“I’ve played with some of the girls when I was younger so it will be good to play with them again.

“I am hoping to take that step to the next level to this elite environment that we all talk about and the elite training and coaching.”

Roche initially played alongside Leeds players Caitlin Beevers and Elle Frain at Dewsbury Moor and grew up supporting the Rhinos.

She added: “I would like to say a massive thank you to Castleford Tigers, the girls and the past coaching staff and the coaching staff this year and the girls that stuck with us. Without them I wouldn’t be the player I am today so I wanted to say just a big thank you and everything is appreciated.

“When I was at Castleford, we were in the same environment: that we wanted to get to the Grand Final and look to win it.

“So, to come to another club that has the same ambitions is massive and, hopefully, we manage to achieve success next season.”

Roche scored a hat-trick for Castleford when they lost to Leeds in the 2018 Challenge Cup final and was a League Leaders Shield winner with them the following year.

In 2019, she also played in the Challenge Cup final and Women’s Grand Final against the Rhinos, losing out both times, something she hopes to change in the blue and amber.

Roche made her England debut in a 54-4 win over France in 2018 and has since played in Papua New Guinea at the World 9s tournament in Australia.

Rhinos Women’s head coach Lois Forsell, whose side were beaten Grand Finalists this season, said: “This is an absolutely massive signing for us.

“Georgia has been around the Women’s game for a long time for such a young age.

“She’s performed really well and we are really excited to bring her to the club.

“Hopefully, it will bring her game to another level and she will really enjoy representing the Rhinos.

“She will bring some leadership and some creativity, passion and experience. The signing shows intentions of what we are looking to do next year.

“Obviously, on the back of our Grand Final, we are disappointed with that result but we are planning for next year and really looking forward to going out there and achieving our potential.”

After a 28-0 Grand Final defeat to St Helens, Rhinos know they have work to do to reach the level of the new champions in 2022.

However, Roche could be a key recruit in helping them achieve their goals and reclaiming the title they won for the first time two years ago having also fallen in their maiden 2018 Grand Final against Wigan Warriors.