Hill celebrates wedding back in Australia

Picture courtesy of Beak Street Photography

It has been a busy start to the year for Leeds Rhinos Women’s captain Courtney Hill.  First up the Australian travelled back home to play for Sydney Roosters in the NRL Nines and this month she got married to her partner Lauren Winfield, who had just represented England in the ICC Womens T20 World Cup .

The sporting couple were married on the Sunshine Coast before heading to Fraser Island for their honeymoon and Hill said she would love to go back and do the wedding day all over again.

“The wedding day was so amazing and special,” she said. “We weren’t blessed with the perfect weather and it stopped raining for the hour that the ceremony was on and we did have photos in the pouring rain. Lots of the cricket girls and Lauren’s friends stayed on for the day after the World Cup and lots of her family who had made a huge effort to be out here with us. Regardless of the rain it was so special and we danced the night away which was really cool and I’d love to do it all again!

“We are now at Fraser Island and we have brought all of Lauren’s family over here, so we have been four wheel driving everywhere across the island and everyone has been loving it, apart from the mosquito bites.

The former Brisbane Heat cricketer moved to the UK in 2018 to be with Winfield, who also plays for Yorkshire Diamonds and will captain the Northern Superchargers in the inaugural season of ‘The Hundred’ this summer. Since her move to the UK she has been one of the stars of the Women’s game, winning the double last year with the Rhinos and being named the Telegraph Woman of Steel.

Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com

Last year she was offered the chance to test herself with in the NRL Nines and never being one to turn down a challenge she jumped at the chance and says it was a great opportunity.

“I loved my experience with the Roosters,” said the half back.  “I got off the plane in Australia and it was straight into it, I landed at 8am and started training at 3 in the afternoon.  As a club I can’t speak any more highly of them, they welcomed me with open arms and I really enjoyed the lead up to Nines in training week with the girls and that was really special and how they wrapped around the men’s and women’s team it felt like one club and it was a lovely experience.  The tournament itself was fantastic, I didn’t play the first game but played the two on the Saturday and I absolutely loved it.  It’s really fast and over and done with before you’ve realised but it was really exciting, with a carnival atmosphere with all the men’s and women’s teams together.

“I ran into Ryan Hall a couple of times and he said his rehab is coming along well, I asked if he was missing home and he said not when the sun is shining like it was, I think he is happy with the sunshine.2

With the Women’s Super League on hold following the COVID-19 emergency, it could be a while before Hill is back with her team mates in the UK, but she is looking forward to getting back with them and pass on some of the things she learned from her time at the Roosters.

“I think I can bring a lot back from my experience there.  Not game play wise because the Nines is such a different game, but certainly the way they go about the Nines business and how technical they are and the standards that they set around everything.  Most importantly the thing I will bring back is a bit more of a flame in the belly to be bigger and better a personally and to bring those little lessons back to the group. 

“My job coming back is to help the Rhinos and we have so many players in that training squad now, whether I’m playing or not it’s about preparing them and helping them to be better players and if the way I play can directly influence their preparation for 2021 and all those things I think we are on the right track.

“It’s very difficult at the moment as I am in Australia and the season has been pushed back and at this stage there is so much uncertainty that I’m not looking too far ahead and the risk of returning to the UK isn’t really worth it in the immediate future so I’ll keep training individually out here.”

Known for being a disciplined athlete, Hill has already been keeping on top of her fitness, although she admits she has had a little break in recent days.

“If I’m honest this last week hasn’t been great for keeping fit on honeymoon week.  My wife Lauren loves her gym so leading up to the wedding we were in the gym a little bit and there is a fab gym out here on the sunshine coast, which is one of the best I’ve ever seen, so it’s awesome to be able to access those facilities.”

Always looking for ways to improve, Hill has taken the opportunity to link up with coaches over there to develop her kicking skills.

“When I was in Sydney the other weekend for the Cricket World Cup and I went for a kick with Nick Davies, who is an ex Aussie Rules player, who is now a coach for Sydney Roosters and Aussie Rules side Sydney Swans and we did lots of little technical kicking stuff which I absolutely loved and that has been one of the highlights of my trip so far.

“I was able to pick his brain and do some kicking work with him which was great as a I take a lot of pride in my kicking. I have been doing a lot of gym stuff and I did a speed session and I think I need to get a bit more cardio back in my life as I was huffing and puffing so I have some work to do before I get back to playing again.”

Since she returned back home there has been a number of changes within the Women’s squad with a new coach and Vice Captain and Hill said she is delighted with both appointments.

“I was stoked that Lois was made head coach, not only for us as a playing group but for Lois personally.  Obviously she has been through a hell of a lot in the last 18 months so to see her have something that she is so passionate about to invest in and to progress. She’s so knowledgeable and experienced, what she is going to bring to the group is going to be fantastic and the respect that she has from everyone across the playing group will hopefully make that transition a little bit easier for her.

“I was also so happy that Hanna Butcher was named Vice Captain, leading up to my departure across pre-season I was saying that they would need to name another captain and my thoughts were Hanna would make an absolutely amazing captain.  She is already a great leader even without the tag of Vice Captain and she leads by example and I am thrilled for her. I think she was a little bit taken back by it but she doesn’t need to do anything differently as she already does everything fabulously.  It will be an interesting job at the minute trying to lead the girls while they are training in their miniature groups, but we are flexible and adaptable and I am sure when we all get back together we will be fine.”