The recruitment of Army RL player Abby Eatock last season for Leeds Rhinos Women proved to be an astute one, with the young player making a huge impact with seven tries in five appearances including one in the Grand Final to help the team to victory.
Now the Army RL’s Woman of Steel player should be preparing for her second season with the club, but the recent COVID-19 emergency has delayed the start on the Women’s Super League and has resulted in Eatock having to self-isolate for a fortnight.
“I was with the Army Rugby League team last week and one of the girls displayed symptoms for Coronavirus, so we were all instructed to self isolate for 14 days,” she explained.
“Self-isolating is hard when I am used to playing rugby every other week with the Army, where I get to see my team mates, so it is a bit of a weird situation and you have to try keep yourself fit. I am doing some work outs at home and doing jobs around the house.
“You’ve just got to focus on the bigger picture – even though we are young and healthy we have got to think about the people who are not so healthy and are in a vulnerable situation so you have to keep yourself to yourself to prevent any of them getting ill.”
“I moved in my first house a couple of weeks ago and my mum was due to come up at the weekend to help out and decorate, the things that families do but that’s on hold and could be up to three months before we see each other again and it’s not nice when you can’t see your grandparents, but I am not going to put them at risk just because I miss them I am just going to give them a ring and see if they are alright.”
Once her self isolation is complete Gunner Eatock will ready for duty where needed for her country during the crisis.
“I will be out of self isolation on 1st April and everyone on my regiment has been told to self isolate and they check every morning to see if we are all well,” she said.
“If the UK goes into lock down we will be going out and stocking shelves in supermarkets and going around giving food to vulnerable people and day to day stuff to help emergency services like police and fire service. I’m not worried about doing this work, I am just gutted that I am not out of self isolation yet because when you join the Army you do sign up to go to war and help people and do all the stuff, so for me to stay inside I feel like I am lacking a bit but I just want to get out and help people.”
The Wigan born player was able to see how her team mates would cut it in the Army earlier this year when they joined her at the Catterick Barracks for a pre-season training camp and she admitted some coped better than others with the test.
“I was able to be part of the training camp at Catterick, which was a little different for the rest of the team, but something I am more used to. It was quite entertaining to watch how they dealt with military training, I think some of them should make it a one off! Other than that they did well and we had a good laugh. I have to do the training regularly, like replicating carrying a stretcher as we have to be trained to carry someone who is injured on a battlefield so we do that in training as we have to be prepared – so I have the fitness to do it but I am also mentally trained to do it, so I am less likely to think this is heavy I’m just going to put it down as I’ve been trained to deal as though it is someone in an actual real situation, so it’s my job so I’m going to be used to doing it.
“I’ve not had chance to get to training at Kirkstall yet, mainly due to the Origin training and travelling and my plan was to get down more when the season started but that has now been put on hold.”
This month Eatock was able to enjoy some rugby when she represented Lancashire in the recent Origin Series and was delighted to help her county to a win over Yorkshire.
“I really enjoyed the experience with Lancashire for the Origin Series as it’s a chance to play with and against some of the best players in the country. I got to play alongside Amy Johnson but it was strange to be playing against some of your normal team mates like Fran Goldthorp and Caitlin Beevers, it was weird, but you just get into game mode.
“We played three games and we won two and drew the second. It was my first time playing in the games and it was special to get the win for Lancashire.”
Her first season couldn’t have gone any better with the Rhinos and she is hoping that when the season comes around she can make more improvements with the benefit of regular game time and training during the season.
“I am really looking forward to my second season with the club. It was a bit of a whirlwind last time and I am more prepared now to go to training and play the full season, which didn’t happen last time, I just turned up and ended up winning a trophy at the end!
“I will be working to improve and get better. Last week I didn’t even expect to playing live on Sky Sports and winning trophies and I just thought I’d be playing regularly on a weekend with a team, but hopefully we will have a good chance of kicking on when the season does start.”