If England win the Women’s Rugby League World Cup at Old Trafford next month, it could be a stepping stone to full-time professionalism in the women’s sport, according to skipper Emily Rudge.
The powerhouse back rower, who is one of 11 St Helens players in the England squad, said on the eve of the tournament: "I firmly believe the key aim for the team is to leave behind a lasting legacy which will eventually result in full-time contracts for the girls."
Warrington-born Rudge - the country’s most capped player - went on: "We are nearly reaching a platform where we can be on the same level as the men but we are not quite there yet."
England, who start their group stage qualifying matches against Brazil at Headingley on Tuesday, November 1 (kick-off 2.30pm), then go on to face Canada at the DW Stadium, Wigan, on Saturday, November 5 (kick-off noon) and play their last group stage game against Papua New Guinea at Leeds on Wednesday, November 9 (kick-off 7.30pm) .
Australia are the bookmakers’ favourites but don’t rule out New Zealand, or England to lift the crown at Old Trafford - the home of Manchester United - on Saturday, November 19, kick-off 1.15pm. It will be followed at 4pm by the men’s final - both being screened live by TV.
England’s 24-player squad: Dannielle Anderson (Leeds Rhinos), Caitlin Beevers (Leeds Rhinos), Keara Bennett (Leeds Rhinos), Leah Burke (St Helens), Jodie Cunningham (St Helens), Hollie Dodd (York City Knights), Grace Field (York City Knights), Fran Goldthorp (Leeds Rhinos), Amy Hardcastle (St Helens), Zoe Harris (St Helens), Zoe Hornby (Leeds Rhinos), Shona Hoyle (St Helens),Tara Jones (St Helens), Vicky Molyneux (Wigan Warriors), Carrie Roberts (St Helens),Georgia Roche (Leeds Rhinos), Emily Rudge (St Helens), Tara-Jane Stanley (York City Knights), Beth Stott (St Helens), Paige Travis (St Helens), Courtney Winfield-Hill (Leeds Rhinos), Vicky Whitfield (St Helens), Georgia Wilson (Wigan Warriors), Olivia Wood (York City Knights) .