Halloran glad to make rugby league return with the Rhinos

Less than 24-hours after completing her first training session with the Rhinos, new signing Lori Halloran was pulling on the blue and amber shirt for the first time in a derby game against Bradford Bulls.

For the former England international though being thrust into a game so suddenly was something she was happy to do after two-years away from the game.

“I was really pleased to make my debut and get back playing,” said Halloran. “Your love for the game never goes away and it’s what drove me to come back.  I had not played for two-years prior to the Bulls game but I love playing and wanted to take up the opportunity to play with the Rhinos.  

“I trained for the first time on Thursday and played the next day so there wasn’t much time before I was playing my first game.  On the first training session though we went through the set plays and the girls were really friendly and were telling what they wanted from me and I was able to get to grips with my role.” 

After losing their game against Castleford and suffering a number of injuries, Adam Cuthbertson’s side needed a big game against their local rivals and Halloran was pleased to play her part in the win. “There is no tougher game to come back for than against the Bulls but once you get that first tackle out of the way the nerves are settled.  It was good to start my Leeds career with a win, it was a tight game at the beginning but around the 65th minute mark we became more patient and clinical and were able to get a roll on.”

In her short time in the Rhinos squad, Halloran says she has been impressed with the standard of players and to link up with some of her former teammates.

“I have played for England with Lois and Danika so there were some familiar faces in the squad but all the girls have made me feel part of the team,” she said. “It’s great to see the squad has a mixture of young and old players and a mix of experience and different skill sets. 

PICTURE BY VAUGHN RIDLEY/SWPIX.COM – Rugby League – England Women – 2013 Team Group – Delacy Academy, Knottingley, England – 30/06/13 – Team members from Normanton (L-R) – Lori Halloran and Lindsay Anfield.

“There has been a lot of positive talk in training and we are focused on building in each game and hopefully making it through to the Grand Final again.  It’s early days for me and I am enjoying being back playing and if I can keep my body in good shape hopefully, I will be involved for the remainder of the campaign.”

Her return to playing was somewhat inevitable given that Rugby League has been part of her lufe from a young age.

“I started playing when I was eight years old for Batley Boys,” she explained.  “My dad was coach there and I played in my brother’s side.  I was then selected to play for Yorkshire and was the first girl to play for Yorkshire at Under-9 and went onto play in the team alongside Danny McGuire, Chev Walker and Rob Burrow.  It was clear even back then how good they were and it’s been good to catch up with Chev and Rob since I’ve been back at the Rhinos.

Halloran pictured on the front row next to Rob Burrow

“Batley didn’t have a girls team back then so at 14 I moved to Birkenshaw Dragons, where I played Open Age and played alongside Julie Burgess.  I learned a lot there and stayed there for a number of years and we had quite a bit of success there.  I left there when I went to University, and there they only played Rugby Union so I didn’t play during that time, but when I came back I joined Castleford Panthers and the Normanton.  This is where I got picked up by the England set up and started attending their Pathway Camps and in 2013 I was selected to play for England in the World Cup.  That was an unbelievable experience and nothing can top playing for your country. When you start out you do it for the love of the sport and don’t really think about playing for England, but once you are in the set up and see the quality of the coaches it spurs you on and you want more of it.

“Coming back to playing is a bit of a balancing act at the moment. I have a ten-year-old and a two-year-old so I couldn’t pursue this with the support of my husband and family.  I also work as a lecturer in Sport at Kirklees College so it’s a busy time but I’m loving being back playing my sport and am looking forward to the rest of the season.”