WOMEN’S rugby league is starting to get back on its feet.

After finally being given the go-ahead to get back on to the field in September, England’s elite women have worked through a six-week staged Return to Playing programme following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 30-woman Elite Performance Squad, led by Warrington-born skipper Emily Rudge and including Warrington Wolves Women stars Roxy Murdoch and Rowanne Smalley, will now meet as a whole squad for the first time in seven months on Saturday.

The group have been split into North West and Yorkshire groups and this weekend’s session will finish with an opposed training match between the two groups.

The teams will then play a three-match Origin series in March before the return of the Women’s Super League.

Rudge, who is joined in the squad by fellow Warringtonians and St Helens teammates Tara Jones and Jodie Cunningham, is eager to make up for lost time ahead of next year’s Rugby League World Cup on home soil.

“After waiting for so long, it’s been brilliant for all of the girls to get back out on the field together over the last few weeks,” he said.

“We’ve had to do everything in the right way, by taking on board a lot of Covid advice and following the policies set out for us as a team.

“This weekend’s training match will be another step forward in the programme – and we’ve already been given a detailed plan for the next few months, leading up to an Origin series in March before we can get back playing for our Super League clubs.

“It’s amazing to think that this time next year, we’ll be on the brink of the World Cup.

“It hasn’t been the year we’d hoped for in terms of Women’s Rugby League, but the World Cup is still firmly within our sights.

“We’ve turned the focus to making gains with our strength, speed and power and it’s been really nice to have the time to build on that lately - the girls are starting to see some really positive outcomes.

“We always knew 2021 was going to be our biggest challenge yet, and that’s even more the case after what’s happened in 2020. But we’re all up for that challenge and can’t wait for next year.”

This year was supposed to be Warrington Wolves Women’s first at Super League level after winning promotion from the Championship in their inaugural season in 2019.

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington Wolves Women played a friendly against Featherstone Rovers before the Covid-19 pandemic put paid to their 2020 season. Picture by Mike Boden