Leeds Rhinos have strengthened their squad for the 2024 season with the signing of former York Valkyrie duo Grace Field and Liv Whitehead, who were both part of the York side that won the League Leaders Shield last season.
Leeds-born prop Grace Field started her playing career with Oulton Raiders before joining Castleford Panthers. She signed for Featherstone Rovers in 2013 and played in the 2017 Grand Final against Bradford, before a move to Castleford Tigers a year later.
At Tigers, she played in the 2018 and 2019 Challenge Cup Final, won the League Leaders Shield and started in the 2019 Grand Final. She made the switch to York in 2021 where she won a further two League Leaders Shields, but she missed out on last year’s Grand Final win after a shoulder injury ruled her out for the end of the season. Her international debut came in 2019 and she was part of England’s World Cup squad in 2021, scoring a memorable try against Brazil at Headingley.
Speaking about joining the Rhinos, Field said: “I am really excited for the opportunity to play for Leeds and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and meeting up with the girls for pre-season.
“I think Leeds are an ambitious team who are capable of winning trophies, which they have done in the past. I know a lot of the Leeds girls from being around the England programmes and I have played with a few at different clubs so I’m looking forward to working with them again.
“I grew up supporting Leeds, so it is a real special feeling knowing that I am joining the club I grew up watching and supporting and to get the chance to run out at Headingley and represent the team is something I am proud of.”
Whitehead, 19, is another Leeds-born player but grew up in South Kirkby. She can play at both wing and full back and is currently part of the England Knights and DISE programme alongside Rhinos players Caitlin Casey and Bella Sykes. She started her career with Wakefield Trinity before joining York in 2021 where she scored nine tries and 29 goals in 20 games for the club. Alongside her rugby, she is studying for a degree in Physical Education at Leeds Beckett University.
Commenting on her move to Leeds, Whitehead said: “I am looking forward to being part of the Rhinos squad next year. Leeds have a young squad and I feel there are opportunities to progress and they have a good set up around the club.
“I know quite a few of the girls from England Knights and England Students so it will be nice to have some familiar faces when we start up in pre season. I am still a young player so I want to work hard to progress and hopefully help Leeds secure silverware next season.”
Leeds Rhinos Women’s head coach Lois Forsell added: “I think Liv is an exciting young player. She is involved with England Knights so I have worked with her in that set-up. She is a player that is hungry and determined to make the first team and wants to be playing regularly so that is really good. She approached us and wanted to come to Leeds, she is studying in the city so it ties in well. I am looking forward to working with her.
“I am also pleased that Grace will be joining us. She has had a difficult couple of years with injuries and I don’t think we have seen the best of her yet . I spoke with her about the massive potential I think she has got in the game. Knowing what she can do, she’s physical and aggressive and I believe she will definitely add to our pack with those qualities. I hope she can have a good pre-season and have a real good year in blue and amber.”