Saints Captain Jodie Cunningham has been crowned the 2021 Betfred Women’s Super League Woman of Steel!
The 2021 Woman of Steel 🏆
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) October 4, 2021
Cunningham has already captained St Helens to their first two major honours in the Women’s game this season – the Betfred Women’s Challenge Cup, and the BWSL League Leaders’ Shield – and will lead their bid for a treble in the BWSL Grand Final against Leeds Rhinos at the Emerald Headingley Stadium on Sunday (October 10).
The 29-year-old loose forward becomes the third winner of the award since it was introduced in 2018, following Georgia Roche of Castleford Tigers and the Leeds Rhinos captain Courtney Winfield-Hill in 2019 – with no award in 2020 as the BWSL season was a victim of Covid-19.
“I’m passionate about the development of Women’s Rugby League, and that’s one of the reasons winning this award means so much,” said Cunningham.
“I’ve loved the game all my life and I’ve been fortunate to be involved at a time when the Women’s game is making amazing progress.
“It was a frustrating time for all of us in 2020 but at Saints we worked so hard as a group to make sure we were ready to hit the ground running in 2021.
“So far things couldn’t have gone any better with the Challenge Cup win and finishing on top of the table – and we’re all looking forward to the Grand Final, which should be a fantastic occasion.
“It’s a real honour to be named Woman of Steel, especially when you look at the quality of players on the shortlist, and the two players who have won the award previously.”
The voting system for the 2021 Woman of Steel was changed as a result of the disruption caused by Covid-19, which meant the season was paused and the BWSL was split into two five-team competitions for the closing stages.
A panel of experts compiled a five-player shortlist, consisting of Cunningham, her St Helens team-mate and England captain Emily Rudge, the young Leeds centre Fran Goldthorpe, and two players who joined York City Knights from Castleford during the season, Rhiannion Marshall and Sinead Peach.