When she first gave Rugby League a try during PE lessons, Lucy Murray never imagined she would earn a place in the Leeds Rhinos Women first team squad by her 18th birthday.
A powerhouse in Schools Rugby League, Murray is the latest in a long line of great rugby league players to emerge from Corpus Christi Catholic College.
Recapping how it all began, Murray said: “I started off as a dancer, but we did rugby as part of the curriculum at school. It was my form tutor Mr Endersby who ran the after-school sessions and asked me to come try out for the team, he changed my opinion and made me realise it wasn’t just a dirty sport for boys.
“After that I just kept improving in the sport and wanted to keep playing so I went down to Hunslet Warriors where a family friend was coaching at the time. At first it was a culture shock because you’re playing with more dedicated players and you can feel the difference in intensity there.
“But when you go into a community club you start to get that gameday ‘buzz’ and with the coaches putting more detailed focus on skills it really helps you to develop as a player.”
Having progressed quickly through the grassroots game with Hunslet and South Leeds Spartans, Murray was invited by current Leeds Rhinos Women Head Coach Lois Forsell to join the Women’s U19 Academy set up.
“I’d looked at Castleford, but when I got the call from Lois at 16 to come down to the Rhinos Women’s U19 training it was a no-brainer for me because they’re the team I’ve always supported.
“Literally after one session at Leeds I knew it was right and I enjoyed being in that environment so much because everyone was so welcoming and you could tell what a huge step up it was. Having the chance to learn from people like Lois who’ve been at the top of the Women’s game and helped me all the way from my time at Corpus Christi was a big part of my decision too.”
The forward’s rapid rise on the Women and Girls’ pathway is an inspirational story with one final chapter yet to be written- playing in the Women’s Super league for her hometown team.
“When I first started playing rugby league, I never imagined I could get to where I am today. To get that opportunity to step up into the Rhinos’ first team now is just amazing and it’s something I’ve always dreamed of.
“When you see them on the TV retaining the Challenge Cup and how they pulled through in the Grand Final, it makes you so proud to be part of that team. I’ve obviously worked hard to get here, but I do still feel incredibly lucky to play for Leeds Rhinos Women.”
With International Women’s Day reminding us to strive towards creating a more equal culture in sport, Murray was keen to speak about the positive impact playing rugby league has had on her life and hopes others will have the opportunity to follow in her footsteps.
“For me, I love being part of a close-knit team and that feeling of anticipation before a game and then the adrenaline you get when you’re playing. Nobody can ever take away that feeling when you score a try or win a game, it’s something so special about playing rugby league.
“I hope that the Women’s game can continue to grow and we can continue getting more exposure. It’s a sport where girls of all different backgrounds can come together as part of one team and a community as equals.
“I think it’s important more get people know about the Women’s Super League and we give opportunities for all girls to play the game they love.”
To find out how to get involved with Women and Girls Rugby League in Leeds, please CLICK HERE.