Caitlin Beevers says England women will be ready to take on anyone as they plot to win their first Rugby League World Cup on home soil in 2021, writes Ella Jerman.
Leeds-born Beevers, who won the Women’s Super League title with Leeds Rhinos on her 18th birthday in October, will be aiming to make her World Cup debut with England next summer in what promises to be a ground-breaking tournament for the sport.
With the men’s, women’s and wheelchair rugby league World Cups being staged together and simultaneously for the first time, the tournament will be one of the most diverse events ever held in England.
In another first for the tournament, the men’s, women’s and wheelchair draws all took place back-to-back in London on Thursday, conducted by the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, and England women were drawn in Group A alongside Papua New Guinea, Canada and Brazil – three teams that don’t worry Beevers or England at all.
“I think it’s all leading up to what promises to be an amazing World Cup,” said Beevers. “Having all the hype around the draw is a massive step in the right direction for the sport.
“We’re ready for anyone. For England our goal is to be at the top with the likes of Australia and New Zealand.
“We want to be on par with them this year and next. They’ll be our biggest competition, we know they will be.
“We’re not fussed on who we get. We’re aiming to beat whoever is in front of us to get that trophy.”
Beevers was speaking at the launch of Women’s Sport Trust’s Unlocked campaign, which will pair 40 of Britain’s most successful female athletes with leading figures from sport, business and media.
Unbelievably privileged to have been chosen to represent Rugby League in the Elite Athletes @WomenSportTrust’s new campaign ‘Unlocked’. There are so many fantastic athletes in the program and no matter what the sport they’re all massive inspirations to me going forward!😁🏉 https://t.co/zyGrSuzZGd— Caitlin Beevers (@CaitlinBeevers1) January 16, 2020
With the 2021 World Cup also being the first to offer women and wheelchair athletes prize-money and pay, Beevers knows she is in an incredibly fortunate position to carve out a career in sport – a far cry away from when she used to dress up as a boy.
“I think it’s just what the women and wheelchair teams needed to get the same recognition as the men. I think it’s getting the recognition that all other women in sport need.
“When I was younger, I could only look to male figures and it’s extremely important for girls now to have female role models. When I was younger, I used to put my hair up in a scrum cap in the boys team and a lot of the boys wouldn’t realise they were playing with a girl – I tried to hide it.
“We had the Challenge Cup live on BBC and the Grand Final live on Sky which set a platform for the future. Now we have the World Cup and that’s the way we want it to go.”
Only 18, Beevers is trailblazing in rugby league in every sense, the youngster also having already become the first woman to referee a rugby league game at Wembley Stadium last year.
But inspired by Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow, the former scrum-half battling motor neurone disease, Beevers is determined to do more to help those less fortunate than herself.
“I want to do anything to promote women in sport,” added Beevers. “If I can promote rugby league to at least two more people, then I’m doing my job.
“It’s such unfortunate circumstances but I really look up to Rob Burrow. He’s doing everything he can for the disease and for the sport and I think that’s amazing.”
Caitlin Beevers is part of Women’s Sport Trust’s new Unlocked campaign, powering up 40 of Britain’s best sportswomen. Find out more at www.womenssporttrust.com