A woman who was the "only girl" in a boys' sports team as a child is now inspiring the next generation.
Emily Rudge was "really sporty" as a kid and after participating in a mixed tournament in primary school found herself playing in the local boys' rugby league team.
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Emily said she gained "a lot of attention from it" and that it "spurred her on" to continue to compete locally.
Now aged 29, Emily is captain of St Helens Women, has captained the England Women team throughout the 2019 Nines World Cup and is now looking to play in her fourth Rugby League World Cup later this year.
Emily, who works as a PE teacher in Rainford High School, said as a child there were no "role models" in the sport to look up to and that her hopes for the sport is for women to have the opportunity to play "full-time" in the future.
Emily, originally from Warrington, told the ECHO: "There was a mixed tournament in primary school when I was about ten years old and they needed some sporty girls to go to this tag rugby tournament.
"One of the teachers asked if I would go and I just went along. I'd never played rugby before that and I fell in love with it from then really.
"My dad took me to a local rugby team and that was playing with the boys and it was full contact and I never looked back from then.
"When I joined the boys team I got a lot of attention being the only girl playing in the league and I think for a lot of people, the lads I played with and the parents, they were surprised a girl was playing.
"They were always really complimentary when I played. My dad was really involved and helped me have loads to have opportunities.
"He took me to a girls team and set up a girls team in Warrington to play in. I've just been really lucky with opportunities and I think a lot of the time just being in the right place in the right time. Hard work has helped me get to where I am."
Emily said the Women's League has come a long way since she began playing, but that the most challenging part is "it's not full time."
Emily said: " Rugby league has definitely come on huge amounts from when I started playing. At that time there were no real role models for girls to look up to, no proper league, so to see where it is now with the Women’s Super League, women’s games being sometimes televised – it's come on huge amounts.
"I think for a lot of us who have been playing for a long time, we’ve never really seen ourselves as role models before because ten years ago not many people were bothered about women playing rugby.
"But now it’s started to grow, people are taking an interest you see younger girls turning up to the games. It is just an amazing sport and its given me so many amazing opportunities and helped me grow as a person.
"For women I think the hardest part for us is the fact it’s not full time and we’re not full time professional athletes. We train like we are, we dedicate so much of our time like a professional athlete would with nutrition, our training regime and more, but you don't have that much time because you work also full time."
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Emily said she loves working as a teacher and that she hopes the Women's League gets to the point where women's football is now.
Emily said: "One of my dreams for the sport and hopes for the future is that women do start to get paid, even if it’s just part time, just so women have the time and opportunities to push themselves and be the very best they can.
"In more recent years, about five years ago, a lot of my pupils didn't really know that I played. But since I was in the Super League in 2018, there's a lot more media coverage of it now and the kids, a lot of them follow it.
"They’ll come in on a Monday and be like 'great win at the weekend miss.'
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"I would really really love the Women's League to get to the point where football is now and I know that is a huge ask.
"Even just to kind of mirror where Women's Rugby Union is at the minute because they're having great successes with the women and they've got a great pathway into their elite team.
"I think for this year the main focus is the World Cup and if we can have some success in the World Cup and win the World Cup I think that would help elevate the sport to the next level."
Emily said she was honoured to be England Captain and said her proudest moment was touring Papua New Guinea, playing to thousands and seeing local fans line up at the airport to see the team.
She said her advice for the next generation is to "find something they are passionate about" and work as "hard as you possibly can."
Emily said: "I absolutely love my teammates. Everyone is really passionate and works really hard and I think that comes from the fact the club has a great ethos around it.
"The club has had a lot of success in recent years and we want to be part of that. We want to bring home trophies for the club and the town and this year we've been working really hard and hopefully we’ll have a chance to do that.
"I would just say to work hard, as hard as you possibly can, but also to enjoy it. I would definitely encourage any young girl to find something they are passionate about and really stick at it and work hard, whether that’s rugby league, netball or football."