Unpaid leave from work, playing for free: but England’s women living the dream at World Cup

England forward Danika Priim has explained how she has no problem whatsoever with giving up money from her day job to play for her country in the Women’s World Cup – saying she believes the current squad are laying the foundation for a bright future in the women’s game.

Following a season of encouraging development at domestic level for the women’s game – in which Priim’s Bradford side won the inaugural Women’s Super League – England head to the World Cup, which begins on Thursday, in buoyant mood.

They will play without pay and most have taken unpaid leave from work to make the trip to Australia – including Priim, who is a PE teacher by trade before transforming into a destructive prop forward when she plays rugby.

“I’d have paid my own way out here if I’d had to,” explains Priim, who was only convinced to try her hand at rugby league two years ago after being asked to give it a go while playing rugby union.

“I’m a PE teacher and yeah, I’ve had to give up wages and take unpaid leave from work for this,” she continues. “Who wouldn’t though? it’s the chance of a lifetime – it’s not ideal having to give up time off work but the girls are well supported by their employers, and the school I teach at have been great with me.”

England face pool games against reigning champions Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands – and if they finish in the top-two of Group A, which contains PNG and the Jillaroos, they will reach the semi-finals.

And Priim believes that following a good year for women’s rugby league in the UK, there is no reason why England can’t upset one or two sides.

“There’s no pay, but we’re setting the platform for future years, I think,” Priim says. “We’re a bit of an unknown quantity, both the team and the sport in this country. Hopefully we can change that over the next few weeks.”

“There’s been a massive boost in recent times for the women’s game; it’s almost gone from zero to hero in just a few months. There’s more and more Super League teams joining (Widnes, Wigan and Leeds will all introduce teams in 2018), and the support they’re offering is great.

“We’re trying to bring it in line with the men’s game as much as possible, and I think we’ve got an exciting future.”

And despite only two teams – Australia and New Zealand – having ever won the competition, Priim sees no reason why England cannot buck that trend in the coming weeks.

“You’ve got to go with one goal, the ultimate aim is to win it,” she admits.

All the group games and the semi-finals take place in Sydney – but the prize for a place in the final is the prospect of a double-header alongside the men’s final on December 2 in Brisbane.

“We’ve got to worry about winning each game first but hopefully a successful run gets us there. It would be nice to see two England-Australia finals I guess, wouldn’t it?”

Here’s hoping!