Bradford Bulls and England star Amy Hardcastle says that with players like her starting to get the same recognition as their male counterparts, it proves how far the Women’s game has come on in the last 12 months.
Hardcastle was named as the first winner of the Female Player of the Year title in the League Express Readers’ Poll, with 43.5 per cent of the vote, beating Woman of Steel winner Georgia Roche into second place.
“I’d seen that I was up for it but I really didn’t think I’d win,” a stunned Hardcastle told League Express.
“Every girl who was up for it had a great season, so I knew it would be really close, so I’m really shocked that I have won it, but I am buzzing about it.
“Seeing that this poll has now got a Women’s category, alongside the Woman of Steel award is brilliant and for us as players, we feel we are getting the backing from people in the game.
“It’s brilliant that the Women are getting the recognition we deserve. We work or study full-time and don’t get paid to play.
“Having some major individual awards available give players something else to aim for. They are going to play and want to be nominated for these prizes and that adds even more hunger to them.
“There is still room for improvement, but the Women’s game is in the best state it ever has been and small steps like these awards can only help take it even further.
“This award shows how much people value me as a player and it has made me so hungry to get going again in 2019.”