Rugby League World Cup: Chantelle Crowl on England’s women and a big weekend of semi-finals | Rugby League News

Chantelle Crowl

Betfred Women’s Super League player and RLWC columnist @ChannyCrowl

England men, wheelchair and women’s teams all face World Cup semi-finals in the coming days; St Helens and England prop Chantelle Crowl looks ahead to those and reflects on the progress of the women’s team so far

Last Updated: 11/11/22 10:51pm

England are through to the Women’s World Cup semi-finals

In her latest Rugby League World Cup column, Chantelle Crowl reflects on England’s performances in the group stage of the women’s tournament and looks ahead to a huge weekend of semi-finals…

What a game England’s 42-4 win over Papua New Guinea was. I think we were building through the Brazil and Canada games earlier in Group A and, no disrespect to those sides, I think the girls knew they had the skill to beat those teams.

The big game was the one against PNG, though, and I think they handled themselves well. You always go out there with nerves, but I think once they found their feet they just out-ran Papua New Guinea and, instead of them coming to bully us, we started to bully them out of the park. It was an awesome game and I’d watch it over and over again.

Sometimes, they say we’re too nice and I think at the start, people do take our niceness for granted. But once you hit our girls a few times, they start to come at you and muscle up. Then they start to tear you down and beat you around the outside whether its through skill or putting shots on. I was very proud of them.

Saying that, when we’re playing against each other in the Betfred Women’s Super League, sometimes I can come out and be a bit soft because I know them from being part of England squads with them and not putting a good enough shot until – and until one of them nearly puts a shot on me, that’s when I’m ready to go!

Once the nerves were out of the way, everything was forgotten about, and England knew they were in a game. I can vouch for how strong PNG are in the pack and we handled that well, and I’ve got to give so much credit to the forwards.

They’ve done an amazing job taking us forward, and then we were able to score outside with some fantastic tries from Leah Burke. Caitlin Beevers was unfortunately denied a couple of times, but England just kept going and it paid off.

Leah Burke scored some spectacular tries in England's win over Papua New Guinea

Leah Burke scored some spectacular tries in England’s win over Papua New Guinea

I think Leah’s tries from Courtney Winfield-Hill’s kicks brought a lot of attention to the women’s game as well because they were fantastic, and it was a great team effort with the pack coming through the middle to get us up to within 20 metres, and Courtney just directing Leah right into the corner.

The girls were phenomenal looking into space and everything they’ve been working on in training when I’ve been involved, they put it into practice on Wednesday.

As far as the group stages are concerned, it’s all been positive for England after winning all three games and not by tiny margins. It shows what skill and class the girls have got about them, and they’re really excited to get to the big one.

With Australia finishing top of Group B after beating New Zealand 10-8 on Thursday, we play the Kiwi Ferns in the semi-finals and I thought they muscled up really well against the Jillaroos – I thought it was their best game in the group stages.

New Zealand await England in the women's World Cup semi-finals

New Zealand await England in the women’s World Cup semi-finals

We’ve been planning and training for this World Cup, so they know what to do in Monday’s semi-final in York. We just need to keep structured and go and do that.

You’ve got to believe in yourself and your team-mates around you otherwise you’re never going to get anywhere. In World Cups I’ve played in, you’ve always got in the back of your mind whether you are good enough, but this year, with the hard work and the training we’ve put in, there’s the belief we are going to win this World Cup.

There have never been ifs or buts, that is the end goal and I think we’ve believed in ourselves going through the Super League season.

I think this England team has really gelled too and whenever I’ve been at training, it’s like a family. No-one is trying to over-please anyone, they’re just trying to be unselfish and there for your team-mates.

The men’s and the wheelchair teams have their semi-finals this weekend too and it’s all of our dreams to win our respective World Cups. It would be history made right there, and it would be absolutely fantastic – not just for England but all of the players.

I don’t think I’ve seen the men’s team play this well for a long time and they seem to have really gelled as well, and the wheelchair team are on fire. I think they’re all bringing it home and I’m backing them to do that.

One big thing for the women’s and wheelchair teams especially has been the crowds attending their games. It’s a big thing hearing that around you and it just lifts you in a different kind of way, and I think they’re going to continue to grow.

It’s all going in the right direction. It’s amazing for all of these young girls, boys and wheelchair players who are watching this World Cup, and they’re all going to want to be a part of it in the future, so for all three England teams to lift a World Cup on home soil would be awesome.

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