Unbeaten start continues for Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair RL as four receive England call-ups for Wales test

Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair Rugby League team continued their fine start to the 2021 season with a pair of convincing victories over Hull FC and Leyland Warriors in Saturday’s double-header at the Allam Sports Centre in Hull.

The side picked up where they left off in the Challenge Cup Plate competition two weeks ago by dominating their competition on Humberside, with a 92-10 victory over the hosts Hull FC followed by a 65-12 win over Leyland Warriors.

A fine afternoon was capped off by three new names getting on the scoresheet, with Paul Horrobin, Daniel Baines and Verity Smith all getting across the line to score their first tries on Saturday.

It proved to be a perfect warm-up for the Betfred Wheelchair Challenge Cup Final on Sunday 4th July for the Rhinos, when they will next take to the pitch against Argonauts Skeleton Army in a repeat of the 2019 Final.

Before then, a number of the Rhinos stars will earn international honours having being called up to represent their countries in next Saturday’s Wheelchair Rugby League International between England and Wales at the English Institute of Sport, Sheffield.

Adam Rigby of Leyland Warriors, Josh Butler of Leeds Rhinos and Rob Hawkins of the Halifax Panthers, the reigning Young Wheelchair Rugby League Player of the Year, are the three inclusions who were not involved in England’s successful tour of Australia in late 2019.

Butler is one of four Rhinos players in the squad, alongside Nathan Collins, Tom Halliwell and James Simpson, whilst Jodie-Ann Boyd-Ward is also expected to feature for Wales having helped her side to another Celtic Cup success earlier this month.

Not only will the match be shown live on BBC Sport for the first time, but the players will also be using new Rugby League Elite Wheelchairs manufactured by the sports wheelchair specialists RGK for the first time in competition as they continue preparations for this autumn’s World Cup.

Tom Coyd, the England Wheelchair Head Coach, said: “Our season and preparation is building nicely. The whole of the National Performance Squad put in a huge personal effort over the pandemic period and improved in every dimension. Since we came back to training together in March this year, we have made big improvements every time we get together at practice.

“Team selection was a real challenge. Our game is evolving and we are testing ourselves, pushing the boundaries of how the game has been played and evolving the sport. Players have to be flexible and be able to fit into the playing style.

“Wales will give us a great challenge and enable us measure progress. Each player who has made selection is there on merit and will get a crack in an International Test Match.”

The players in England’s squad were measured for their bespoke chairs by RGK during recent training camps, and Martin Coyd, the General Manager of England Wheelchair RL, is excited by the impact they may have on performance.

“The build-up to the 2021 Rugby League World Cup gives us a wonderful opportunity to test, push and improve everything we do in the game,” he said. “We have built the best possible Coaching and Support Team to give the players the opportunity to be at their best. Great coaching, analysis, medicine, nutrition, sports science, psychology and wellbeing are all playing a big role in incremental improvements across the board.

“We have created partnerships with a fantastic group of sponsors which has enabled us to source a state of the art, made to measure, ergonomic Wheelchair for each player in the RLWC Team.

“RGK make the best wheelchairs in the world and they have developed a Rugby League specific Chair. We believe that this will raise our levels even further and enable the players to feel the benefit of their hard work on and off the field. We are determined to be at our very best come November.”

The England squad will use the chairs in a training session this weekend at EIS Sheffield, the venue for next weekend’s international, and for several fixtures in the Rugby League World Cup. Get your tickets for the match HERE

For more information about the Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair Rugby League team, please  please contact andyg@spider-y.org.uk or call 07769938798.