History will be made on Saturday when Gina Smallwood becomes the first female Wheelchair Rugby League player to represent England as they take on France in the Rapid Support Services International.
Having been a member of this year’s Wheelchair Super League winning Bury Jigsaw team her selection for the national squad is further proof of the inclusive nature of the sport.
Gina Smallwood said: “It’s going to be a good game, it’s always a good game against the French, I’m looking forward to it and there are nerves as well but we’ve got plenty of training before the game.
“I started off doing athletics then got involved in Wheelchair Basketball and someone approached me from our team and asked whether I fancied getting involved in Rugby League.
“That was two seasons ago, now I’m here as the first female to play for England.
“I feel proud to be selected as the first ever female player for the England Wheelchair team, the expectation is that we want to go out and win but it’s good to be involved in the game and with such great people.”
The Rapid Support Services Wheelchair Rugby League International between England and France is being played at Leigh Indoor Sports Centre, Leigh Sports Village, kicking off at 1:30 pm on Saturday October 8.
Head coach Phil Roberts commented: "Gina's selection is on the back of a strong season at club level. Her speed and timing around the play-the-ball is an asset to the team and her effort and attitude couldn't be better.
“Having been in the 2010 training squad she is familiar with our methods has deservedly progressed into the team."
This will be the first time an International Wheelchair Rugby League game has been played in the North West of England and spectators are invited to attend to support the national side.
For more information on Wheelchair Rugby League visit: www.therfl.co.uk/play/wheelchair and to keep up to date with all news from Rugby League’s grassroots follow @CommunityRL on Twitter.
Wayne Boardman (Halifax)
Jack Brown (Halifax)
Paul Craig (Mersey Vikings)
Tom Docherty (Wolverhampton Rhinos)
Mike Fairclough (Mersey Vikings)
Jack Heggie (Bury Jigsaw)
Paul McCormick (Bury Jigsaw)
Martin Norris (C) (Bury Jigsaw)
Phil Roberts (Bury Jigsaw)
Andrew Wharton (Halifax)
Gina Smallwood (Bury Jigsaw)
photos Janos Schmidt