England v Wales: NRLW Grand Final winner Georgia Roche to play ‘pivotal’ role

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By todaybreakingnews.org

Georgia Roche carrying the ball for Newcastle Knights
Georgia Roche helped Newcastle Knights to NRLW Grand Final victory on 1 October
Venue: Headingley, Leeds Date: Saturday, 4 November Kick-off: 12:00 GMT
Coverage: Watch on BBC Two, plus text updates on BBC Sport website and app.

England return to international action against Wales on Saturday with an NRL Women’s Premiership Grand Final winner in their squad.

It has been a landmark year for the women’s team as Georgia Roche, Hollie-Mae Dodd and Fran Goldthorp, who became the first three England players to sign professional contracts with clubs in Australasia’s prestigious NRLW.

Roche was part of the Newcastle Knights side which secured back-to-back NRL titles and started their Grand Final win over Gold Coast Titans on 1 October, while Goldthorp and Dodd appeared for North Queensland Cowboys and Canberra Raiders respectively.

All three were part of the England squad at last year’s World Cup, but only half-back Roche will be involved when England play Wales in Leeds.

England captain Jodie Cunningham told the BBC: “Not only did we have three England girls go out and play in the NRLW and get contracts, we had an NRLW winner.

“I think Georgia was outstanding and all three players did themselves a lot of credit. But for me with Georgia coming back, what she offers in the halves is really important to England and she is going to be pivotal.”

In April, when deals involving Dodd and Roche were first announced, England head coach Stuart Barrow said it was “positive” for the national team and “good for England in the long run”.

St Helens skipper Cunningham, who in August became the first female captain to lift the Challenge Cup at Wembley, believes the trio’s impact shows the level of talent in England.

She added: “There’s always an opportunity for the Aussies to maybe look down on the competition over here.

“I think us having some really good players going out there, competing and doing themselves really proud, just proves that we have got talent here and have got a lot to offer. Then when it comes to internationals we are going to be a force to be reckoned with.”

England lost in the semi-finals of their home World Cup last year, beaten in the last four by New Zealand.

Barrow succeeded Craig Richards as England coach after the tournament and his only match in charge to date was a 64-0 thrashing of France in April.

England beat Wales 32-6 in their most recent meeting in June 2022, a game played only three years after Wales formed a women’s side.

Cunningham said: “Wales are a new side internationally but they’re really coming on, they’re going to be strong, they’re going to give us a test and we’re excited.

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