GEORGIA ROCHE says that the last few months have been “a dream” after being shortlisted for the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award.
It’s the latest accolade that the Birstall-based rugby league player has had after a brilliant breakthrough year with Castleford Tigers Women.
Last week she was named as the inaugural Woman of Steel at the Super League awards night, and she said that winning the prize was “surreal”.
Now Roche is in contention for the BBC’s prestigious award, which has been won in the past by the likes of Wayne Rooney, Andy Murray and Tom Daley.
“I definitely didn’t expect it,” she admitted. “I didn’t expect to be on the shortlist for the Woman of Steel and win that, never mind all this, and it’s all just a bit of a dream at the moment!”
The nomination is just reward for a superb year, in which she has emerged as one of the stars of the women’s game for Castleford.
“In a matter of weeks I’d completed my dream, and everything just seems to have come all at once,” said Roche.
The 18-year-old has helped the Tigers reach the Challenge Cup final and Super League semi-finals, and she praised the environment at the club.
“The girls are really supportive, and I definitely wouldn’t be here without them and the coaches,” she said.
“They’re like a family really, (they’re) really supportive and dead proud.
“Getting to the Challenge Cup final and the semis (in the Women’s Super League) are big things really, and finishing fourth as well is really good.”
Her achievements have now been recognised by the England set-up as well, and the former Dewsbury Moor junior has received a first call-up for the international side for their fixture against France in Carcassonne on October 27.
“It’s a lifelong dream to play rugby for my country, and next week, fingers crossed, I can get into the 17, and I’ll be completing it,” said Roche.
That might not be the only international adventure on the horizon though, as Roche revealed that she would love to play her rugby league in Australia in the future.
“Hopefully in the next couple of years I’ll be in Australia playing, if all goes to plan,” she said.
“They’re more advanced over there in terms of core skill, it’s a lot faster, and the men are more supportive over there as well.
“They’ve just had their (NRL Women’s Premiership) Grand Final, and their Grand Final was a curtain raiser to the men’s.”
However, she believes that the way the women’s game has grown in the UK in the past 12 months augurs well, and hopes that that will continue to improve.
“It can only go forward now which is a positive, so hopefully in a couple of years’ time we can be matching the men, in terms of being paid, training facilities and fans.”
Creating role models will be crucial to gaining further recognition and Roche is now at the forefront, not just in representing the women’s game but rugby league as a whole at the Sports Personality awards.
The winner will be announced at the annual ceremony, which will be held at Birmingham’s Genting Arena on 16 December.