St Helens star turns Wembley injury heartbreak into triumph this year

ZOE HARRIS hasn’t had it easy of late, but what better way to crown six excellent performances since her re-introduction to the side than winning the player-of-the-match award at Wembley?

Harris wasn’t selected in the side for Saints’ first four games of the season, with coach Matty Smith preferring an Amy Taylor-Faye Gaskin partnership.

A year ago, Harris sustained a season-ending injury at Wembley, which came on the back of being selected out of position at fullback for several weeks.

To cap off a tough few months, she lost her place in the England Performance Squad (EPS) when it was refreshed in January. 

But, after a defeat to York in April, Harris was back, in place of Amy Taylor. 

In truth, Harris’s omission had been a surprise, as was her move to fullback last season. She makes breaks, she creates tries, she scores them, and she has a great kicking game, as she demonstrated on Saturday at Wembley. 

Two minutes into her comeback against Huddersfield, she created a try with a lovely piece of skill. Her stunning 40-20 kick helped turn the cup semi-final against York. And she played a big part in the comeback wins against Leeds and York in the Women’s Super League. She has been outstanding since her recall. 

At Wembley, as well as her constant probing and precision kicking, her inch-perfect cut-out ball laid a try on a plate for Phoebe Hook. In the second half, she pinned Ruby Enright in the corner with a brilliant chase and tackle and forced a goal-line drop out minutes later. 

“I played fullback last year as a favour because we didn’t really have one,” said Harris.

“But I’m more comfortable in the halfback position and I’m glad to be back there.”

Lancashire play Yorkshire in the first women’s Origin on 22 June. England coach Stuart Barrow will select both sides, with only players from the EPS and the Knights’ squad to be considered. 

He will announce a new EPS beforehand, and Zoe Harris will be hoping to be in it.

First published in League Express newspaper, Issue 3,434 (June 10, 2024)

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