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Rugby league convert Courtney Hill.

After more than a decade of cricket being her pathway to becoming an elite sportswoman, a life-changing move offered Courtney Hill a fresh chance at tackling her rugby league dream.

A former sprint champion and member of the Women's Big Bash League's Brisbane Heat side since their inaugural season, the 31-year-old swapped a cricket ball for a pair of boots in 2018 to captain the Leeds Rhinos women's side.

Hill's journey through junior league systems was cut short at 12 years of age – a common theme among many female athletes who are now blossoming across the NRLW and other sporting competitions.

The school teacher moved from Brisbane to Leeds in April to be closer to her partner and by chance stumbled across a post on the Rhinos' Instagram account inviting women to take part in an open trial.

"I was late with the registration dates cutting off but they welcomed me down to a training session and we went from there," Hill told

"Now that I'm finished with cricket it was a good chance to get back into it and have a crack. I just felt the time was right. They've had to upskill me quick. My first game against Wigan I felt my brain rattle through my skull and thought 'Courtney, you're too old and little for this.'

Courtney Hill in action.
Courtney Hill in action. ©

"But I guess it's like anything, you can get conditioned to it. I'm not the biggest human in the world but I love the contest. There's nothing better than bringing someone a lot bigger than you down. It's a real adrenaline rush."

Leeds' women's side is coached by Rhinos prop and former NRL player Adam Cuthbertson, who splits his time between training as a professional athlete and coaching up to 25 women each week.

The side went down to Wigan 18-16 in a tight women's Super League grand final last month.

"Cuthbo [Cuthbertson]is amazing at what he does, he's so passionate about the women's game and is a brilliant blend of having really high expectations but is so patient and supportive at the same time," Hill said.

"He flies home from games in France straight to our game. I think he's only missed one training session because his son was born.

"To have someone playing in the Super League invest his time and energy in the women's league, we have so much respect for that."

Despite limited knowledge around women's rugby league in the northern hemisphere, Hill has been impressed with the systems in place to support female athletes.

While Hill has no intentions on reaching for higher honours in the code, she paid close attention to the recent NRLW from a distance and believes both the NRL and RFL are growing sustainable competitions.

"I definitely check in with the NRLW, I bought the NRL Live Pass and it's been good to watch the highlights and see the development back home," Hill said.

"I know it was only a four-week competition but having it around the finals time gave it a lot of hype.

"We've got seven teams in the women's Super League, most aligned to a club and I think that was part of the plan here.

"We're playing a 14-round competition plus finals series and Challenge Cup amongst that. Then it's good to see the championship teams in the division below.

"Little things like that are positive. And we've had some good crowds at games. The England supporters at any sport get into it and I've enjoyed that side to it."


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