Tara-Jane Stanley of York City Knights is the 2022 Woman of Steel.
The 29-year-old full-back becomes the fourth winner of the award – and from a fourth different club – after a voting process involving a panel of experts from the media and the England Performance Unit, to determine the outstanding performer in the Betfred Women’s Super League.
Tara-Jane, who is originally from Widnes and has previously played for Thatto Heath and Castleford Tigers, excelled as the City Knights clinched their first major trophy in the women’s game, securing the League Leaders Shield with eight wins from their nine fixtures.
“I’m stunned and humbled to have won the award,” she said.
“When you look at the quality of the players in contention, just to be on that shortlist was a big honour.
“As a full-back you don’t get to shine without a big effort by the rest of your team, and although we were disappointed to lose in the Grand Final at the weekend, it was a great achievement for us to finish top of the table.
“I wouldn’t be able to win this award without the performances of Sinead and Hollie, who were also on the shortlist, and everyone else who has contributed.”
In addition to Stanley’s York team-mates Sinead Peach and Hollie Dodd, the other three players on the shortlist were Georgia Roche of Leeds Rhinos, and the St Helens team-mates Amy Hardcastle and Jodie Cunningham – who was the 2021 Woman of Steel.
Now Stanley is expected to link up in the England squad for this autumn’s Rugby League World Cup – with the England Women head coach Craig Richards to name his squad next Monday (September 26).
“It’s been a great season, but it definitely isn’t over,” Stanley added. “We’re all a bit nervous until we get the call from Craig, but after playing in the last two World Cups in 2013 and 2017, I’m so excited about having the chance to play in a third – especially at home in England.”
Woman of Steel, roll of honour
2018 – Georgia Roche (Castleford Tigers)
2019 – Courtney Winfield-Hill (Leeds Rhinos)
2020 – no award (Covid)
2021 – Jodie Cunningham (St Helens)
2022 – Tara-Jane Stanley (York City Knights)