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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

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West Cumbrian RL ace's punishing schedule in bid for World Cup place

Holly Freestone is prepared to put in the hard miles on the motorway as well as the hard yards on the rugby pitch to make sure she achieves her dream of representing England in the Women’s RL World Cup next summer.

Holly Freestone photo
Holly Freestone

The 26-year-old, from Whitehaven, was determined to remain involved with the game after her local club Copeland Wildcats folded recently due to a player-shortage. And she now travels to Warrington every weekend to play.

She acknowledges it’s a taxing schedule but adds enthusiastically: “I wouldn’t have it any other way. You get to play for England, it’s incredible.

“It’s a shame the Wildcats folded, but Amanda Hewer is putting in a lot of good work with the Under-16s, and hopefully in the future the team can start again.”

The second-row/centre has half a dozen England caps to her name and featured in the recent 48-0 demolition of France. And with the next World Cup on home soil, she is hoping to follow in the footsteps of ex-Wildcats pair Amanda Donaldson and Claire Hall, who starred in the 2008 tournament in Australia.

England eventually lost to New Zealand in the semi-final and Donaldson was named at prop in a world XVII, picked from the eight nations taking part.

“I’d like to think I have a chance, but I have to continue to put in the hours in the gym and on the pitch,” Holly continued. “There’s a lot of competition for places, but that’s a good thing. Hopefully we can beat the Kiwis and Australians this time.

“After watching the likes of Lee Mossop and Shaun Lunt on television, you want to emulate them.”

Freestone played RU as a student at Lancaster University but as a league fan she was determined to try her hand at the rival code.

“I’ve watched Whitehaven since I was 10 or 11 and been hooked since then,” said the international, whose is put through strength and conditioning training by Workington Town’s expert Matthew Johnson.

England Women are now coached by Steve McCormack, who is no stranger to west Cumbrian fans.

“He’s spot-on and really experienced, as he coaches Swinton and Scotland,” she said. “He also coached Whitehaven and is always asking how they are getting on. He’s really good with detail and I’m enjoying the experience.”

Explaining her love of RL, she added: “I really like the team aspect. I’ve liked team sports since I was at school, and it’s about coming together and working towards the same goals, with everyone putting in 100 per cent and all doing it together.”

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