11 October 2019

Rugby league Grand Final: Tigers' Rhiannion Marshall on the challenge of juggling sport with full-time job

Castleford Tigers' Rhiannion Marshall has talked about the juggling act of holding down a full-time job while trying to excel as a rugby player.

The 26-year-old, who works in sales, said: "It has [affected my mental health]. Personally, I have been down in the dumps through work and it has affected my rugby. I'm going to work, not hitting my targets and getting stressed and then going off to train. 

"Yes I'd love [to be a professional player]. I'd love to not have to get up at 5am to train and then go to work and then train after work with club. It's a lot of hard work at the moment having to work full-time with rugby."

The news, however, that she was being paid to play for the first time relieved some pressure from her shoulders. The player, who first picked up a rugby ball at the age of five, is part of the England squad going to the World Cup Nines in Sydney. The players are being paid the same as the men, with the prize money also mirroring their male counterparts. 

Marshall was "gobsmacked" when she heard about the money. "It was amazing, we were all sat in a meeting and they put this slide show up. I read it and it said $2000. 

"I thought they must be paying for flights. I said to the person next to me 'is that for flights?' and they said 'no that's for us'!

"I was gobsmacked. We were all speechless. It's amazing that they want to give us that and that they recognise our time and effort and what we do. It's good to get something back."

England are travelling to Sydney to compete against Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand in the inaugural tournament. 

Tonight, Marshall is competing on the domestic front as the Tigers face Leeds Rhinos in rugby league's Grand Final.  

While Marshall says that topping the table has given the Tigers a boost, she emphasised they have to keep their composure. 

"We have beaten them [Leeds] twice and they beat us in the game that mattered. I think we have the upper hand.

"I think if we play our game, on paper we are the better side. We should win it. I think our chances are very high to be honest.

"Last time [at the Challenge Cup] we let the occasion get to us and we went away from our game plan. We have spoken about it this week and we just need to relax and play our game. I think the way to do that is try not to over think things. 

"Last time I was so nervous. I wanted to get it over and done with. I'm trying to take a different approach try not to really think about it. I feel good."

Sisters in arms: Marshall believes her team can win this evening (PA Images)

Marshall is also delighted the game is being televised for the first time.

"For it to be on TV is absolutely amazing, it's overwhelming. Our families can watch us at home instead of making the journey to St Helens. It's a really good thing for the game."

Marshall believes the reason for the sudden interest in women's rugby league comes from the increased standard in the WSL.

She said: "I think the standard has got higher. More clubs are competing against each other. We had previously always known who the top three were and I think because the standard has improved more teams have got involved.  

"We all competed at a good level and so everyone has jumped on the bandwagon."

Tonight's game is being shown on Sky Sports, kick off 7.30pm

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