Interview by Barry Andrews. Photos by Stephen Halsey
New Wheelchair Wales Rugby League international Jodie Boyd-Ward is looking forward to taking on her old England team-mates this Saturday in Sheffield (kick-off 12.30pm).
The 28-year old made the switch earlier this year and hasn’t regretted a minute of it, especially after scoring for Wales in the Celtic Cup against Ireland with her first touch of the ball.
“I don’t think that has ever happened to me before,” she says. “To come on the pitch and within the first minute to get the ball and score, I was out to prove myself a little bit and I think I did just that.
“I really enjoyed my debut for Wales a fortnight ago, it’s nice to be back in a situation where I’m getting stuck in and enjoying the game once again.
“I think it scared people that I had a smile on my face, because they have been used to game face all the time which is scary. It’s been a journey the last few months and I have had comments over the last few weeks as the season started at domestic level. But at the Celtic Cup, coaches came up to me saying that it was like seeing the old Jodie. It has been a long time since I felt I know my place in a squad and have the freedom to go out and show what I have. I can only look forward to what is coming up this year.”
Boyd-Ward is set to win her 30th international cap this Saturday, against an England side that she turned out for 20 times. But after losing some confidence in her play, she decided to embrace her Welsh heritage and now she’s facing her old team mates.
“I’m really looking forwards to taking on England,” she says. “It’s a unique situation for me as I’ve spent several years competing with most of that squad including my Leeds Rhinos teammates. This will be the first time we will be playing on opposite sides and I’m excited to see how this plays out. I’m lucky to be part of a great Wales squad and I’m ready to give everything in the upcoming game and be part of making history with the rest of my team.
“Following the England game, I’m hoping to break into that final 10 for the World Cup. I made the big choice to switch over because I wanted to prove myself and now I have that opportunity. I feel now that I’m the player that I was four years ago – someone with confidence, not being scared of saying what needs to be done and playing the game.”
England v Wales in a full Wheelchair international rugby league match can be seen live on the BBCi Player on Saturday.