Challenge Cup final: Former St Helens player Shona Hoyle aims to be a thorn in the side of former Leeds Rhinos team | rugby league news

Shona Hoyle won the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup with St Helens and scored a try in their victory over Leeds Rhinos at Wembley last year. On Saturday, however, she will be part of the Rhinos team that will try to prevent the Saints from making it four in a row.

The England striker crossed the Pennines to Leeds ahead of the 2024 season and it was perhaps inevitable that she would face St Helens for her new club, in a match with one of sport’s biggest honors at stake, at some point.

Hoyle is not surprised that it happened in the final of the Women’s Challenge Cup, when both teams meet in the main match for the third year in a row and, although she holds no grudge towards her former teammates, there will be no chance of her being kind with them.

“I’m very excited,” Hoyle said. “I knew they would get there because they work hard for each other and have that mentality of professionalism and performing in really important games.

“I knew this would be the opportunity, but there are no bad vibes. I really want them to perform and I want us to perform. I’m ready to fight for that victory.

“It wasn’t great for the Leeds girls to end up with that result (last year), but it’s all happened now and we’re ready to win this time. I’m not going to lose and we’re all going to win.” fight for that victory.”

The Halifax native’s move to Leeds was made easier by the fact that there were already a couple of familiar faces there: former Saint Amy Hardcastle and her former Bradford Bulls and England teammate Lois Forsell, who is now the coach at Chief of the Rhinos.

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Highlights from St Helens’ 12-6 win over Leeds Rhinos in their recent Betfred Women’s Super League match

However, Hoyle was able to adapt quickly to her new surroundings and hit the ground running with six tries in her first seven appearances before suffering a finger injury that sidelined her since last month.

“I’m pretty good at adapting to new situations and I find it very comfortable,” Hoyle said. “I played with Lois at Bradford and England and felt very comfortable.

“I miss the Saints girls a lot, but my life is a lot easier and the Saints girls understand that with the journey I was on, so they understood the reasons why I moved to Leeds.

“It was the right thing to do and I’m so excited to get out with the girls.”

I’ve been to a few Challenge Cups and last year I beat them all.

Shona Hoyle

However, there could hardly be a better occasion for Hoyle to return from injury than Wembley Stadium, never mind against his former club, and his memories of last year’s ground-breaking match are among the best of his career.

The fact that the women’s final has joined the men’s on one of rugby league’s biggest stages means it is a far cry from their first taste of Challenge Cup glory with Bradford seven years ago, when they beat the Featherstone Rovers in somewhat more humble surroundings at York Community Stadium. Heworth Club.

As someone who started playing before the formation of the Betfred Women’s Super League in 2017, Hoyle is delighted with the great strides women’s football has made in recent years and has no doubt that playing in the cup final at Wembley will will take it to an even higher level. heights.

“I’ve been to a few Challenge Cups and last year I beat them all,” Hoyle said. “I’m never going to downplay previous wins, but it makes it a little more exciting for the young guys coming up.

Photo by Will Palmer/SWpix.com - 12/08/2023 - Rugby League - Betfred Women's Challenge Cup Final - Leeds Rhinos v St Helens - Wembley Stadium, London, England - Shona Hoyle of St.Helens is tackled by Caitlin Casey of Leeds Rhinos
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Hoyle was in the St Helens team that beat Leeds at Wembley last year.

“By playing at Wembley, more teams will want to do so, so they will invest in players that need to be invested in.

“I feel like it’s really important that we maintain the stages of development at different clubs, that we get the young girls playing, progressing through the system and hopefully playing for a Super League team.

“The opportunities are greater and the more people hear us and see us on TV and see us performing at the highest level, they will want to be there.”

Leeds, winners of the Women’s Challenge Cup in 2018 and 2019, lost to St Helens on the two previous occasions they faced them in this match and also in the 2021 Women’s Super League Grand Final.

Image by Olly Hassell/SWpix.com - 24/05/2024 - Rugby League - Betfred Women's Super League Round 4 - St Helens v Leeds Rhinos - The Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens, England - Amy Hardcastle of Leeds is tackled by St Helens
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Leeds were narrowly beaten by St Helens in the Women’s Super League last month.

The Rhinos were runners-up in both finals last year, losing to York Valkyrie in the Women’s Super League Grand Final, and in their most recent game against St Helens in the league, the hosts held on for a 12-6 victory.

Hoyle, who returns to the Leeds squad for the final along with Bethan Dainton and Ruby Enright, is expecting a match just as close as last month.

“We had a couple of players out so it will be great to get the girls back and it was a great game of rugby league,” Hoyle said. “That’s what it’s about and that’s what this weekend will be about.

“It’s going to be a very close competition and very aggressive on both sides. That’s what I love and thrive on, and most of the girls do.”

Watch every match of the 2024 Betfred Super League season, including Magic Weekend, play-offs and the Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair Grand Finals, live on sky sports. Also stream with NOW.

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