Leeds ace Booth humbled after becoming England’s first professional player

Leeds Rhinos will this week say goodbye to Grand Final and two-time Challenge Cup winner Charlotte Booth, who is making history with her move to Australia.

The 26-year-old has signed for Division One side West Brisbane Panthers in a deal which will see her become the first English professional Women’s Rugby League player.

It is another first for the England international, who in 2017 became the first ever Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) supported female Rugby League player.

TASS is a Sport England-funded partnership between talented athletes, education institutions and national governing bodies of sport to work together to bring the best out of the country’s most exciting young talent.

But in contrast to that first, Booth admits the enormity of her latest achievement may take some time to fully sink in.

“I will be getting paid to play at the Panthers,” Booth told League Express.

“It won’t be enough so that I can afford to sit back and lounge by the pool all day, but it is enough to help cover some of the costs, meaning I’ll be able to get a bit more of a casual job out there, like coffee-shop work.

“It does mean I am the first English player to go professional, but I’m quite humble, so thinking about it like that make me feel a bit uncomfortable as I’m not sure I’m the one that really deserves that title.

“There has been so many great players before me that have done so much for the game and it’s a shame that it’s only now that we can start getting these rewards.

“It’s recognition for all the work they have done in the game and it is something I can be proud of.

“When I got the TASS award it felt huge, not because it was me, but because of where it showed the game was going. I hoped that that the first of many, and with this new experience I’d like to think one of the younger players in the game can look at me and think about having a crack in Australia as well. Or that Super League clubs look at the move and think they should be paying their athletes as well.

“I’d like to think this move is a stepping stone in the right direction for the game as a whole.”