Women’s team helping each other stay motivated says Forsell

Leeds Rhinos Women were set to begin their defence of their Super League title this weekend, but due to the COVID-19 emergency the RFL announced that the start of the season would be postponed, now for new head coach Lois Forsell she faces a different start to her time in charge than expected.

“It’s strange times and although we are disappointed the season won’t start this week we fully understand and supported the decision when it was made.  For now all the players are doing the work that they need to do at home, it’s just obviously challenging that they have to do it on their own and not in a group as that’s why we all play team sports as we love being around our friends and the social element as well. They are all working hard from home and logging their workouts on their step counts or FitBits or whatever they have got and keep pushing each other and encouraging each other on the What’s App Group.

“It’s very surreal at the moment, but it would be even worse if we couldn’t connect with our family and friends on FaceTime and What’s App.  The challenges people are setting each other are great and kicking a toilet roll around has even kept me entertained and it’s been great to send videos to each other of the training we are doing. We are lucky we have this and we are just going to have to keep up with these methods to keep engaged over the next few weeks.

“When this first happened, myself and our team manager Leon Crick and strength and condition Dan Spears got together and filmed a Tabata training video, and we have been able to send this to players to follow on certain day so that has been good. We also did running sessions that they we can do on a local field on their own and a body weight circuit that they can do on their own so hopefully that will help them maintain their strength while they are not in a gym.  They are keeping training to Tuesdays and Thursdays and on a weekend as they would do normally with us and we also have the support of our physio Sarah if anyone needs online appointments.”

Although the players and the country face difficult times, Forsell says that people’s health is the main priority and the team are focussed on doing the right thing for everyone in the community.

“The message is clear from the club, whether it be the men’s or women’s team that player and family welfare comes first and making sure that they are safe and everyone is doing the right things.  We are only going to beat this if everyone does the right thing, yes they can do their training programmes at home, but I always say that if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you and I am sure all this time at home is challenging but you have just got to be willing and prepared to do it tough to get the end result so it’s just important to keep everyone safe.”

Forsell was named the new head coach of the Rhinos this year, following her very successful career and she said she is enjoying the new role and the challenges it brings.

“It’s been a mad few months to the start of the year but I am really enjoying the coaching.  Having the pre-season training camp together really helped to establish me in the role that I was doing and helped me to emerge myself as head coach rather than a player and allowed me to get into habits that I wanted to and get into that mind space of thinking like a head coach rather than a player, so having a few days at it and then being able to reset and go again was really good for me. I am enjoying it, I am learning lots every step of the way and I am grateful to be still involved in the game. 

“I always said I wanted to be successful in Women’s Rugby League and particularly with Leeds Rhinos Women so the fact that I can still do that in a different roll is something I am really excited about.

“The biggest challenge from going from player to coach is that as a player, not in an arrogant way, I always knew that I could do it and the proof was doing it and how you played on the pitch, but as a coach you explain everything, think twice about everything, make sure you get it 100% right because you’re the person who is giving the instructions and advice and making sure that it comes across right in the way that you deliver your message and put it into a drill or a game and how you put it into a training session and I just think the biggest challenge in all this is that you have got all basis covered and have to think of about everything and you are not just thinking about being in a forward pack – you are thinking about how you can help the backs as well and stuff like that, so it’s that attention to detail that has been the difference and something I want to get right.

“I think I will be calmer as a coach than I was as a player.  You are not in the heat of the moment as much as you are as a player and you know that you have to be that calm leading head, which is the biggest thing I learned from Cuthbo that you always have to have it together because the way you conduct yourself will influence on everyone – coaching staff and players.”

The 2020 squad will be announced in the coming weeks, but Forsell said there will be few changes from last season and is now looking for those players who won the double last year to push themselves even further in 2020.

“The squad is almost the same as last year, we don’t have any new players coming in, although I expect we will see some of our talented 19 players coming up.  Although it’s the same squad who achieved so much last year, it’s not hard to motivate them again as they are all highly self-motivated and competitors and that’s why they have won what they have won in the past but we’ve always said from the start is that we are here to create history and history is still there to be made and we want to be the first Leeds Rhinos Women’s team to win the treble.  It’s getting a lot tougher now with the standards of the competition improving and that should be a big motivator for the girls.  I always say to the girls, try to be better today than you were yesterday and that sums it up, we need to be better year on year.”

Alongside her coaching role and job as Women and Girls Development Officer with Leeds Rhinos Foundation, Forsell has also added another string to her bow with a presenting role on the new Inside Super League show on Sky.

“The presenting is not going too bad, again it’s a learning curve. I said at the beginning of the year that after the tough 18 months I’d had prior to that, that I was going to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone and have a positive year, so presenting has been class and a definite step out of my comfort zone and I’ve got a lot to learn, I’m not the polished product yet but I am proud of myself for putting myself out there and giving it a go and hopefully when all this is over we can get stuck back into it.  I am also doing some stuff with Leeds over the next few weeks to keep myself busy, so look out for that.”