Amelia Brown sets out Huddersfield Giants’ WSL targets after signing historic contract

Huddersfield Giants have become the latest club to offer professional contracts to their female players, and 19-year-old Amelia Brown believes they have a big future ahead of them.

LEEDS RHINOS are doing it, York Valkyrie are doing it, and now Huddersfield are doing it too. 

Fresh from Leeds and York becoming the first teams to pay their players in 2023, the Valkyrie took things one step further by signing their entire 2024 squad onto professional contracts, which include a base salary, a range of performance-related bonuses and also include maternity leave support and NRLW player options.

Not to be outdone, Huddersfield Giants have followed suit, with two of their own international stars – captain Bethan Oates and young winger Amelia Brown – penning similar deals.

At this stage, the salary involved is not enough to allow the players to give up their day jobs away from the game and rely solely on rugby league for their income, but it is most definitely a step forward.

However, for 19-year-old Brown, the contract is about more than the money she’ll now get for pulling on her boots, it’s about professionalism.

“Being given a contract by Huddersfield was a great moment for me,” Brown, who is currently aiming for a career in the fire service, told Rugby League World.

“And it’s great to see other players in the game getting them too. Hopefully, we can get to the point where all of our team can get that opportunity too and be given a contract.

“Now that I have the contract it will push me forward more in the game, and for me and Bethan, it will give us both a bit more responsibility within the team.

“I remember that when I first joined this club, I didn’t know anyone, I hardly spoke to anyone, but that has changed and I have got some responsibility now and do feel more professional.

“There’s maybe not any more pressure on me, but it’s made me realise how far I’ve come and now I maybe have to step up and lead the way for some of the even younger girls.

“Signing the contract shows I’m dedicated to this club. 

“Yes, if I did move to one of the top clubs I’d become a better player, but I don’t think I’d learn as much as I would do by staying here in a team that is up and coming and willing to learn together.

“I really do believe that if we keep growing and building together we can become one of the top clubs. 

“I can see us staying together for the next few years. We’re a very young squad, but if we all stick together, and add new players when need them, we will get there and start to challenge the other teams.

“The leading teams at the moment are a lot older than us, with a lot more experience. Those older players will then retire and those clubs will have to rebuild with younger players and we can take advantage of that.”

Brown, who was a nominee for the Super League Young Player of the Year award in 2023, first burst onto the scene with a try-scoring debut against Warrington Wolves in the 2021 Challenge Cup, in a performance that set the tone of what was to come.

After crossing for five more tries that season, she was named ‘Best Back’ at the end-of-season awards before taking that form into the following season, including a seven-try haul in the 114-0 Cup win over Hull FC.

With 11 more league tries and three in the cup in 2023, she finished as the club’s top try scorer and saw that form recognised with promotion from the England Knights squad to Stuart Barrow’s England Performance Unit squad. She featured for Yorkshire in the Origin training game played in the build-up to the international with Wales in November, and she admits that experience opened her eyes to what could be ahead for her.

“Just because you’re not playing in one of the top teams doesn’t mean you can’t perform well, get noticed and get to where you want to be,” added Brown, who bagged a hat-trick as the Giants picked up their first-ever Super League win in August against then reigning champions Leeds Rhinos, who had rested several of their bigger name players ahead of their Challenge Cup Final at Wembley.

“I’ve taken the game seriously but also tried not to put too much pressure on myself and just got out there and enjoyed the game. I’ve done that and had some good personal performances.

“It was such a great experience to be involved with the England squad and to be around some of the players I was working with was amazing.

“When I played in that Origin game alongside the other players involved, it showed me what I would get the chance to do if I eventually get to play for the senior team.

“I feel like I doubt myself a lot, but being involved in that game and that squad gave me a lot more belief in myself. So although it was tough, and I ended up battered and bruised, I took a lot from the experience.”

Whatever the future holds, the main focus for now is preparing for a third season of Super League action and helping the Giants continue to grow both on and off the field.

“Preparations for the new season are going well,” added Brown, who thinks that December’s transition of the team moving from the Community Trust’s control to that of the main club, can only be a good thing.

“We’ve signed a few new players and I think we’ll all gel together well, we just need to give ourselves a chance to do that.

“We have to trust each other and play as a team. In previous years we’ve been a team but we’ve maybe been playing for ourselves sometimes and not each other. So this year, to move forward, we need to play as one and not as a team of individual players.

“Coming under the banner of the main club will make a difference. It’s only just happened so I don’t know what the full benefits will be, but we’re already getting access to better facilities and things like that.

“All the top clubs have that link as well so it’s only going to be a good thing for us.

“Finally getting that first win against Leeds last season was a great feeling.

“I got a hat-trick and it was an amazing day. When we got the win, the whole team were in such high spirits and it was a different feeling from what we’d ever experienced before. 

“It felt amazing and we want to feel like that again.

“It also showed that what we’re trying to do isn’t impossible and that, if we put our minds to it, we can do it again. We just need to work hard every week to achieve that again.

“With Super League going up to eight clubs with Featherstone Rovers and Barrow Raiders coming up it will make the season more competitive for us as they’re likely to be at a similar level to us. It will give us more competitive games and more opportunities for us to show our skills and what we can do.

“When you’re defending for most of the game you don’t get as many chances to show what you’ve been working on in training, so hopefully we’ll get more opportunities to do that this season.

“More teams will probably also mean fewer breaks between games which will also be good, as we can get more consistency as a team.

“If we can get a couple more wins against teams like that this season it would help build our confidence for when come up against the bigger teams.

“Our aim is to get a little bit better every season and we’re looking forward to the challenge of 2024.”

First published in Rugby League World magazine, Issue 492 (January 2024)

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