31 Oct 2022
Ex-wildfire fighter Hindley ready for the heat of World Cup battle
Canada's captain can't wait for the women's Rugby League World Cup to start this week
By Josh Graham
Canada captain Gabrielle Hindley’s wildfire fighting past has prepared her for the pressure cauldron of the women’s Rugby League World Cup.
Hindley spent several years dousing flames in the steep mountainous areas of British Columbia where she learnt the difference between panic and urgency and is hoping to bring the latter to the Ravens’ second World Cup campaign.
Canada’s 2017 debut ended at the semi-final stage with defeat to eventual champions Australia but featured a first international win over Papua New Guinea who they face in the second game of Tuesday’s opening double-header at Headingley.
Hindley explained: “I no longer wildfire fight, it’s a pretty dangerous job. You get a lot of trees going up in flames.
“It is all managed risk, understanding wind conditions and heat and making calculated decisions.
“It’s similar in footy, you play safe at times. You play safe until you earn the right to play which is a strategy we will have coming in.”
Hindley is not of one of coach Mike Castle’s six survivors from the last World Cup, but she has plenty of experience having represented the North Sydney Bears in Australia prior to the pandemic.
A former all-Canadian rugby union player at the University of British Columbia, Hindley’s appetite for hard work allowed her to fall in love with the speed and opportunities provided by the 13-a-side game.
“I have never been so exhausted as finishing my first league game,” she explained.
Hindley can call upon vastly experienced 41-year-old Laura Mariu, who after five World Cups with New Zealand has switched allegiance to represent her Canadian mother’s heritage, for advice.
And the Ravens captain believes her addition to the squad has helped the players carve out their specific roles within the team.
“It has been amazing having her as part of the team,” said Hindley, who now works as a biologist in environmental consultancy.
“She’s a quiet leader, very good at helping each of us better understand our positions and roles in the team. In league, it’s very much about knowing your role and what to do in each situation.
Eyes on the prize!
Our women's captains have joined us in York alongside coaches, media and tournament stakeholders to officially launch the women's tournament.
Kick off next Tuesday can't come soon enough!#RLWC2021 pic.twitter.com/C6nw1RoTaI
— Rugby League World Cup 2021 (@RLWC2021) October 28, 2022
“She’s got such a breadth of experience that none of us have on the team, so it’s amazing to have her on board and part of the leadership.”
The Ravens are North America’s sole representative at this tournament and after the demise of former men’s Super League side Toronto Wolfpack, Hindley hopes their exploits in England can reignite the game across the Atlantic.
She said: “I think it’s a huge opportunity for North America to embrace the sport, to hopefully start looking at what England and Australia have done with their leagues.
“We did have a men’s side for a bit in the Toronto Wolfpack, but I think it’s an opportunity for the domestic side to really get together and say, ‘we have international representation in this sport, we want to start growing it domestically.’
“I think that would be really great to see.”
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets