Holly Thorpe Interview: It was my focus - I wanted to be back for this game

Holly Thorpe is hoping to end the season strongly with Sale Sharks after recovering from a shoulder injury
©Sale Sharks

Returning from injury will always be a great feeling for any athlete and for Sale Sharks Women’s winger Holly Thorpe, she seems to have timed it just right.

At the end of last month, Thorpe was back in action for the North-West outfit after a lengthy spell on the sidelines. She made her first top-flight start since June 2023 against Premiership Women’s Rugby league leaders Gloucester-Hartpury before playing 63 minutes away at her old club Loughborough Lightning last Sunday.

Though Thorpe and her teammates couldn't return home to Manchester with their second win of the season, the 22-year-old admits it felt “amazing to be back” after recovering from shoulder surgery which has kept her out for three months.

“Obviously it was amazing to be back with the girls” she begins. “It's obviously something I've been working towards for quite a while. It is always good to get the first couple of games back under my belt. I felt really fresh and raring to go on Sunday. I'm looking forward to what's quite a big game for us this weekend.”

After the club were recently deducted five points for failing to meet the PWR required average of 13 English Qualified Players (EQP) in their match day squad, it means Sale do remain bottom of the table but it will be hard to dampen their spirits on Saturday.

The club are set to make history this International Women’s Day 2024 by holding their first-ever women’s game at the Salford Community Stadium.

Rachel Taylor’s side will take on Ealing Trailfinders in a special ‘Ladies’ Day’ fixture and Thorpe - who is fit and firing again and will also celebrate her 23rd birthday on Saturday - cannot wait to be a part of it.

“Everyone is really excited, the mood in camp is brilliant,” she adds. “It's obviously so cool knowing we're the first group to ever play there. It's been the game that everyone has been working towards and I know personally because I've been injured this season, it's been a massive work on of mine to make sure I was back in time for that game. It's really cool that I am and a cool experience for all of the girls who are involved.

“Hopefully it inspires the next generation of girls. Obviously, it falls the day after International Women's Day which is amazing but we've got lots of young school children coming, young girls especially so if they can see us play, that's massive for them. The club have done really well in promoting the game. Hopefully they'll be a great crowd there.”

Flying up the wing at the Salford Community Stadium will be a special feeling for Thorpe, who began her career up in the North-East at Tynedale RFC: “I started playing when I was really young to be fair and I had to play with the boys,” she reflects.

“Then I found a girls' team but moved away to Loughborough College to pursue rugby more seriously. I played for Loughborough Lightning for a while. I then decided to move back home for a bit and ended up signing for Sharks. To be fair, they've really made me fall back in love with rugby again which is so nice.”

Last weekend, all four PWR games were broadcast live across TNT Sports, BBC iPlayer and YouTube, and the Sharks will once again be in front of the TV cameras on Saturday afternoon.

This season, there's been a huge increase in the amount of coverage the women's game is getting and Thorpe thinks it's an encouraging sign and urges everyone to come and watch their game against Ealing Trailfinders (7th) on Saturday.

“Obviously, it's awesome! “We were on TNT at the weekend which was so exciting.”

“It's great when you knock the ball on over the try line in front of many viewers” she adds sarcastically whilst laughing.

“The Premiership is super competitive this season, even within our squad. You've really got to fight for your place at the minute and obviously that's only going to bring out the best in all of us, it's really good.

“If anyone is free at 2pm on Saturday, get yourself to Salford Community Stadium to come and watch us.”