Women's Super League: Adam Cuthbertson finds reward in Leeds Rhinos coaching role
Watch the Women's Super League Grand Final live on Sky Sports Mix (now on Sky channel 145) on Friday, October 11
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 04/10/19 5:30pm
Adam Cuthbertson knows from his own experiences what it takes to make it to the pinnacle of your chosen sporting discipline.
From playing rugby league as a junior at Avalon Bulldogs back home in Australia, to earning his first professional contract with NRL club Manly Sea Eagles, the 34-year-old Leeds Rhinos forward has made plenty of sacrifices along the way to get to - and stay at - the top.
It is something Cuthbertson has had to bear in mind in his latest role as well, having taken on the role of head coach of the Rhinos' Women's Super League team two years ago.
The amateur nature of the competition means all of Leeds' players have to find employment outside of rugby league, something Cuthbertson has become more mindful of after 13 years as a professional athlete.
"I've been in that position before as a junior, so I can really relate to the girls and the commitment and sacrifices they make to play the sport," Cuthbertson told Sky Sports.
"I've had a number of times where players in the 17 have had to pull out of a training session or a game at a weekend, and I'm mindful in the sense to understand everyone has got a different situation.
"At the end of the day, they give up a lot and I always say to them 'your health and your family come first', and outside of that come into rugby, get away, and enjoy it.
"It's just being mindful of how to manage a team of individuals, and that's something I've come to understand more and more over the last couple of years."
Cuthbertson has shown no sign of being ready to hang up his boots just yet, but his desire to pursue a coaching career once that day comes led to him taking on the role of overseeing the progress of the Rhinos' women's team.
Juggling his playing responsibilities on the men's side with looking after a developing team is not without its challenges, although the prop has overseen back-to-back Women's Challenge Cup wins for the Rhinos in 2018 and 2019.
They reached the WSL Grand Final last year as well, being edged out by Wigan Warriors, and Cuthbertson is enjoying being part of the growth of the women's game.
"I find the coaching side of it a lot more stressful, but I've found it very rewarding over the last two years in the sense of helping the game grow," Cuthbertson said.
"With the girls I've got at Leeds, I really like giving my wealth of knowledge to help them get better experiences, better training and coaching, and trying to bring that professional side of things to the team.
"I've found it really good so far, but it does have its ups and downs. I'm getting used to being the one who has to manage people when they've got injuries, problems away from rugby or work commitments, so it's all a huge learning curve for me but I'm absolutely loving it."
The Rhinos are 80 minutes away from reaching the Grand Final again this year, which is being shown live on Sky Sports on October 11, but first they must overcome St Helens in Sunday's semi-final.
It was voted as September's Try of the Month but can @CaitlinBeevers1 help Leeds Rhinos Women to the Women's @SuperLeague Grand Final this Sunday against @Saints1890 Women?— Leeds Rhinos (@leedsrhinos) October 3, 2019
Kick off at the @twstadium is 1pm so get behind @cuthbertson85's team 🙌#GoodLuckRhinos#LeedsGirlsCan pic.twitter.com/bIyXcGuPx9
The winners of that match face either League Leaders' Shield winners Castleford Tigers or defending champions Wigan at Totally Wicked Stadium in the decider.
Leeds' players will certainly be well-prepared, having access to all of the facilities as the full-time men's team do, and Cuthbertson is in no doubt women's rugby league is heading in the right direction.
"Having the facilities like dieticians, counsellors, trainers, assistants and coaches on hand, we're going in the right direction in terms of evolving into a professional sport," Cuthbertson said.
"It's just one of those things we've got to continue to gain momentum from. We're putting all of the right things in place at the minute, but we need to take those standards and aim a little bit higher, and continue to do that year in, year out.
"In the next couple of years, we'll see the benefits from that."