The words pioneer and trailblazer aren’t normally used to describe 19-year-olds all that often but Hollie-Mae Dodd is just that.
When Dodd was announced as one of the Raiders inaugural NRLW signings recently, there was plenty of support from across the globe for the first English player to sign a NRLW contract.
There’s been plenty of history-making moments in Dodd’s career so far, including being the youngest player to play in a Challenge Cup final at just 16 years and one day old.
The second rower also recently started her fourth season of Super League, having played two years with Castleford before moving to the York Valkyrie.
She was rewarded for her strong debut season at York, being named the Super League’s Young Player of the Year in 2022.
Dodd was also a former national champion in ballroom and latin dancing before she started rugby league in high school.
Dodd has achieved plenty already in her career and can’t wait for her next challenge in Canberra.
“I’m really excited. I’m really grateful for the opportunity and I can’t wait to just come over and start training with the girls and get to know everyone. I’m really looking forward to it,” Dodd said.
“It’s everyone’s dream to be honest and coming over and playing with some of the best athletes in the world is something I’m really looking forward to.”
Dodd impressed for England in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, playing four matches, which included two tries against Canada in the second round of the competition.
Playing against sides like New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, who had regular NRLW players in their squad, was a good opportunity for Dodd to test herself out against some of the world’s best players.
“They were really tough, physical sides and I think that’s one thing I’m definitely looking forward to, playing alongside and training alongside the best athletes in the world. I think it’ll only help me improve my game playing alongside all the really good athletes.”
Despite her age, Dodd said now is the right time to take her opportunity in the world’s best women’s rugby league competition.
“It’s really exciting. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s quite a nerve-wracking thing to do but it’s been something I’ve wanted to do from a really young age so I think now is my time and now is the opportunity, I should just grab it and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Dodd said she’s been overwhelmed by the response to her signing both from fans across the world as well as from her Valkyrie teammates and coaching staff.
“I’ve loved playing at York. I’ve only been playing there for a season but the girls have been so supportive and Lindsay (Anfield) our coach has helped me get where I am today and she’s been really supportive of coming over to Australia. She’s said ‘you’ll be a part of us and you’ll represent us out there as well’, I’m really grateful that she’s been like that.
“The amount of messages and things like that I’ve had over the past few days about coming over. People from Australia that I’ve never met before messaging me saying how exciting it is and how much they are looking forward for me to come over. It’s just really overwhelming the fact that people that I’ve never met are so intrigued and so interested and so excited for myself.”
As for her new teammates, Dodd said she’s been impressed with how the team is coming together.
“It’s looking very strong. I’ve seen some of the announcements and I’m sure there’s going to be many more good ones to come. I’ve been keeping up-to-date with it all, I’ve been refreshing my page all the time to see the announcements.”
Dodd has been named in the England squad that will take on France this weekend in Warrington before she prepares for the big move.
“We have an England International at the end of this month so I’m hoping to play that and hopefully be out as soon as possible, looking at the second week of May just to settle in.”