LEEDS RHINOS forward Danika Priim is no stranger to Grand Finals, but tonight will be the first she has played in.
The England front-row will be a key part of Rhinos’ engine room when they square up to Castleford Tigers in the Betfred Women’s Super League showpiece at Totally Wicked Stadium in St Helens.
Priim has been on the books of a team in each of the women’s game’s last five major finals, but only played in one – Rhinos’ 16-10 Coral Challenge Cup victory against Tigers three months ago.
She was at Bradford Bulls in 2017, but injury kept her out of the Challenge Cup showpiece and she was asked not to play in the Grand Final, to ensure she was fully fit for England duty in that autumn’s World Cup.
Having moved to Leeds, Priim suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury early last season and had to sit out both the Cup final win over Castleford and Rhinos’ defeat by Wigan Warriors in the title decider.
“Like the Challenge Cup, it is third time lucky for me,” Priim confirmed of tonight’s game.
“For two years now I’ve watched two finals, so it’s going to be good to get out there and play in one.
“On a personal level I have come back from a very big injury, I’ve played most of the season now and been in the Challenge Cup final and we fought hard last Sunday and made it into the Grand Final.
“Personally, I didn’t know if we’d take the win or not and I was quite happy with how the season had gone, but this is definitely the icing on the cake,” added Priim.
“Regardless of the result, I’ve made another final and come back, so [it has been] really good.”
Rhinos finished third in the table, five points behind Tigers and four adrift of Saints who they beat in last weekend’s semi-final.
Leeds are without forward Shannon Lacey who has a head injury that also rules her out of England’s World Nines squad, which flies to Australia tomorrow.
Castleford coach Lindsay Anfield hopes a relaxed approach to tonight’s game will pay off for her side.
Anfield is not downplaying the importance of the title decider at Totally Wicked Stadium but insisted she wants her side to enjoy the build-up and occasion.
They won 13 of their 14 league games and have been beaten only twice in all competitions this year, but the first of those losses was that Cup final defeat to Leeds three months ago, when Castleford under-performed on the big day.
Though Tigers already have the league leaders’ prize in their trophy cabinet, this is the game their 2019 campaign will be remembered for.
Anfield admitted: “That’s how big it is. We have put a lot of work in, but this is the big one.”
However, Anfield revealed the coaching staff have taken a different approach, having learned lessons from their second successive Challenge Cup final loss to Rhinos.
“We put a lot of detail into making sure preparation was 100 per cent [for the Cup],” she said.
“We were probably a bit over-tactical; this time it’s about having fun – it’s just another game.”