Women’s Super League 2024: York Valkyrie season preview, player to watch, squad and prediction

Kelsey Gentles says…

LINDSAY (Anfield – coach) knows what works for us so the pre-season message was just to fine tune a lot of things.

The Grand Final performance last year was great, but no one is saying that it was perfect and that they’re the best players ever. They’re not, every one has flaws and we’ve been working on those.

We have a squad of 26 senior players and a fantastic academy structure in place, and we are going to need that. It’s a long season and people pick up injuries, so the same message needs to filter down through all levels, so that when a player is called on they can slot in and do a job.

Having contracts now makes us all more accountable. We are being paid as athletes so we need to be living and performing like athletes. This is a job now, and you always need to perform at your best when you’re at work.

I’m just so happy to be back.

One to watch

FORMER Army centre MANUQALO KOMAITAI comes to York and Super League as something of an unknown quantity. 

Valkyrie coach Lindsay Anfield first saw her in action for the Army in Super League South last season and spotted something that could add an extra dimension to the reigning champions. 

A direct, hard-running and strong player, who can play across many other positions, means she brings a utility value to the squad. 

She may be relatively new to the 13-a-side code, but the Fijian has previously played union for London Irish and a Pacific Islanders representative side.

Pundit’s view with Danika Priim

BY signing all of their players onto contracts that offer base salaries and multiple bonuses, York have already started the season on the front foot. 

Current Woman of Steel and Valkyrie captain Sinead Peach and former winner of the award Tara Jane Stanley will again be the experience in the side, and with new signing Eboni Partington joining from St Helens and adding more firepower out wide, the double they achieved last season could be a taste of the success to come. 

Missing out on a chance to play in the Challenge Cup at Wembley has left them hungry for the treble in 2024. 

I am sure that the very exciting return of new mum Kelsey Gentles will add even more strength to this squad and we could soon see her back in the England Performance Unit squad with the eight other Valkyrie players named by England coach Stuart Barrow.

2024 squad

1 Tara Jane Stanley, 2 Eboni Partington, 3 Tamzin Renouf, 4 Emma Kershaw, 5 Georgie Hetherington, 6 Sade Rihari, 7 Liv Gale, 8 Liv Wood, 9 Sinead Peach, 10 Jas Bell, 11 Lacey Owen, 12 Savannah Andrade, 13 Rhiannon Marshall, 14 Georgia Taylor, 15 Kelsey Gentles, 16 Daisy Sanderson, 17 Elisa Akpa, 18 Jess Sharp, 19 Bettie Lambert, 20 Alex Stimpson, 21 Lucy Eastwood, 22 Eva Izumi, 23 Manuqalo Komaitai, 24 Ellie Hendry, 25 Ashleigh Hyde, 26 Carrie Roberts.

Rugby League World predicts: 2nd

First published in Rugby League World magazine, Issue 495 (April 2024)

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