Castleford Tigers Women are set to give a debut to wonderkid Hollie Dodd in Saturday’s Challenge Cup final.
Dodd turns 16 on Friday and will become the youngest ever player to play in a Challenge Cup final – male of female – when she turns out for the Tigers the day after, having had to wait for her 16th birthday to make her debut due to age restrictions.
Castleford face Leeds Rhinos in the final at the University of Bolton Stadium, and Dodd says her first game has been a long time coming.
“I’ve been training towards this for quite a while now and I just want to get out there,” she told BBC Sport. “But making my debut in a Challenge Cup final is another experience entirely.
🚨 WARNING 🚨
Save the date! Hollie Mae Dodd is set to make her debut on 27.07.2019! #COYF
— Cas Tigers Women (@CTRLFCWomen) July 10, 2019
“I’m definitely feeling the pressure, but it shows they have faith in me. I can’t wait to just get out there.
“It’s a complete step up to club level, but I’m hopeful that I will fit in well.”
Dodd is widely regarded as one of the top talents within women’s rugby league, with Castleford coach Lindsay Anfield admitting the club are lucky to have her.
“Even from when she was really young, 11 or 12 years old, she has been the best talent in rugby league in her age group,” she said.
“I think she’ll hold her own and be one of the standout players on Saturday.
“Athletically, she’s probably one of the best in the women’s game at the moment. She is a really good athlete and is very skilful as well, she is a bit of a rare find.”
— The Coral Challenge Cup (@TheChallengeCup) July 25, 2019
Such is her immense talent, that Dodd has been accepted onto a rugby scholarship at Loughborough College in September.
And although that means a switch to rugby union, she insists she won’t be leaving her league roots behind.
“I didn’t have much knowledge of the game at first, but I could tell with my line running that I liked it and that I was good.
“I don’t want to quit rugby league so I will hopefully still play for Castleford at weekends.
“I just want to play rugby all the time. Hopefully one day I’ll pull on an England shirt, that’s what I want.”