St Helens Women captain Jodie Cunningham has told Sky Sports newly introduced match fees for her and her team-mates is “a massive step, huge milestone and a great day a long time coming.”

Tuesday brought confirmation St Helens will pay match fees to their women’s players for the very first time, with Saints skipper Cunningham exclusively speaking to Sky Sports’ RL Verdict show about the news.

“It’s huge. For me personally, for all the individual players, it’s massive. But just what it says about the women’s game,” Cunningham told Sky Sports.

“The fact that big clubs like St Helens now are valuing what we’re doing on the pitch, and there’s going to be match fees for that. It’s incredible.

“It’s a massive step, a huge milestone for us and a really great day that’s been a long time coming.”

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Picture by Alex Whitehead/ - 28/03/2023 - Rugby League - Betfred Women's Super League 2023 Launch - Headingley Stadium, Leeds, England - St Helens' Jodie Cunningham
Image:Cunningham has lobbied for match fees to enter the women’s game for some time

As Sky Sports Rugby League’s Jenna Brooks pointed out, Cunningham has personally lobbied for match fee payments within the domestic women’s game for some time.

As such, it makes Tuesday’s announcement a particularly proud day for the 32-year-old.

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“It is [a proud day personally],” Cunningham said. “And you know what, St Helens have been brilliant the way they’ve approached this.

“It’s not been rushed, there’s a been a lot of things off-field they’ve made sure they have gotten right first. Medical care, coaching appointments.

“They’ve done this at the right time. It was the next step, and a next step that had to happen for us.

“For me personally, just what that means for us, and all the girls playing, it’s massive.

“It’s something I’ve been lobbying for a long time across the women’s game, and it’s just really brilliant to see the clubs getting on board now.”

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ - 03/05/2022 - Rugby League - Betfred Challenge Cup Semi Final Triple Header Preview - Elland Road, Leeds, England - Leeds Rhinos women's Courtney Winfield-Hill & St Helens women's Jodie Cunningham with the Betfred Women's Challenge Cup.
Image:Cunningham says Tuesday’s announcement was ‘a next step that had to happen for us’

Women’s Challenge Cup fixtures

Saturday, March 16:Group 1 – Sheffield Eagles vs York Valkyrie (2pm); Group 2 – Cardiff Demons vs Barrow Raiders, Salford Red Devils vs Wigan Warriors (both 2pm); Group 3 – St Helens vs London Broncos (3pm), Bradford Bulls vs Warrington Wolves (2pm); Group 4 – Huddersfield Giants vs Hull KR, Leigh Leopards vs Leeds Rhinos (both 2pm).

Saturday, March 23: Group 2 – Cardiff Demons vs Salford Red Devils (2pm); Group 3 – Bradford Bulls vs St Helens (2pm); Group 4 – Hull KR vs Leeds Rhinos, Leigh Leopards vs Huddersfield Giants (both 2pm).

Sunday, March 24: Group 1 – Featherstone Rovers vs Sheffield Eagles (12pm); Group 2 – Barrow Raiders vs Wigan Warriors; Group 3 – London Broncos vs Warrington Wolves (3.30pm).

Saturday, April 6: Group 2 – Wigan Warriors vs Cardiff Demons (2pm); Group 4 – Leeds Rhinos vs Huddersfield Giants, Hull KR vs Leigh Leopards (both 2pm).

Sunday, April 7: Group 1 – York Valkyrie vs Featherstone Rovers (12pm); Group 2 – Salford Red Devils vs Barrow Raiders (12pm); Group 3 – Warrington Wolves vs St Helens (12pm), London Broncos vs Bradford Bulls (3.30pm).

Quarter-finals (dates TBC): Group 1 winner vs Group 1 runner-up, Group 2 winner vs Group 2 runner-up, Group 3 winner vs Group 4 runner-up, Group 4 winner vs Group 3 runner-up.

Semi-finals: TBC.

Final (Saturday, June 8): Wembley Stadium.

Women’s Super League fixtures

Friday, April 19: Wigan Warriors vs Barrow Raiders, Leeds Rhinos vs Huddersfield Giants (both 5.30pm).

Sunday, April 21: Warrington Wolves vs Featherstone Rovers, York Valkyrie vs St Helens (both 2pm).

Saturday, April 27: Leeds Rhinos vs Warrington Wolves (12pm), Barrow Raiders vs York Valkyrie (2pm).

Sunday, April 28: Wigan Warriors vs Featherstone Rovers (12pm), St Helens vs Huddersfield Giants (2pm).

Saturday, May 11: Huddersfield Giants vs Wigan Warriors (12pm), Featherstone Rovers vs St Helens (2pm).

Sunday, May 12: York Valkyrie vs Leeds Rhinos, Warrington Wolves vs Barrow Raiders (both 12pm).

Saturday, May 25: Warrington Wolves vs Wigan Warriors (1pm), St Helens vs Leeds Rhinos (2pm).

Sunday, May 26: Barrow Raiders vs Featherstone Rovers (12pm), Huddersfield Giants vs York Valkyire (2pm).

Friday, May 31: St Helens vs Wigan Warriors (5.15pm), Leeds Rhinos vs Barrow Raiders (5.30pm).

Saturday, June 1: Featherstone Rovers vs Huddersfield Giants (12pm).

Sunday, June 2: York Valkyrie vs Warrington Wolves (12pm).

Saturday, June 15: Barrow Raiders vs Wigan Warriors (1.30pm), Featherstone Rovers vs Warrington Wolves, St Helens vs York Valkyire (2pm).

Sunday, June 16: Huddersfield Giants vs Leeds Rhinos (2pm).

Saturday, July 6: Leeds Rhinos vs St Helens (12.30pm), Featherstone Rovers vs Wigan Warriors (2pm).

Sunday, July 7: York Valkyrie vs Barrow Raiders, Warrington Wolves vs Huddersfield Giants (both 12pm).

Saturday, July 13: Wigan Warriors vs St Helens (12pm).

Sunday, July 14: York Valkyrie vs Featherstone Rovers, Warrington Wolves vs Leeds Rhinos (both 12pm), Huddersfield Giants vs Barrow Raiders (2pm).

Saturday, July 20: York Valkyrie vs Wigan Warriors (12pm), St Helens vs Warrington Wolves (2pm).

Sunday, July 21: Barrow Raiders vs Leeds Rhinos (12pm), Huddersfield Giants vs Featherstone Rovers (2pm).

Sunday, August 4: Featherstone Rovers vs Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors vs Huddersfield Giants, Warrington Wolves vs York Valkyrie, Barrow Raiders vs St Helens (all 12pm).

Friday, August 9: Leeds Rhinos vs Wigan Warriors (5.30pm).

Saturday, August 10: St Helens vs Featherstone Rovers (12pm), Barrow Raiders vs Warrington Wolves (2pm).

Sunday, August 11: York Valkyrie vs Huddersfield Giants (12pm).

Saturday, August 31: Featherstone Rovers vs Barrow Raiders (2pm).

Sunday, September 1: Leeds Rhinos vs York Valkyrie, Wigan Warriors vs Warrington Wolves (both 12pm), Huddersfield Giants vs St Helens (2pm).

Friday, September 6: Warrington Wolves vs St Helens (5.15pm), Leeds Rhinos vs Featherstone Rovers (5.30pm).

Saturday, September 7: Barrow Raiders vs Huddersfield Giants (12pm).

Sunday, September 8: Wigan Warriors vs York Valkyrie (12pm).

Saturday, September 14: St Helens vs Barrow Raiders (2pm).

Sunday, September 15: Featherstone Rovers vs York Valkyrie, Wigan Warriors vs Leeds Rhinos (both 12pm), Huddersfield Giants vs Warrington Wolves (2pm).

Play-offs: TBC.

Grand Final: TBC.

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