Wigan Warriors Women: Olivia Harborow shares her sporting story from playing netball to touch rugby

Wigan Warriors Women’s Olivia Harborow states she’s always had a strong passion for sport.
Olivia Harborow (right) has played a number of sports before rugby leagueOlivia Harborow (right) has played a number of sports before rugby league
Olivia Harborow (right) has played a number of sports before rugby league

The 21-year-old joined Kris Ratcliffe’s side at the start of March, when she featured in the Challenge Cup games against York City Knights Ladies.

Harborow admits despite also playing netball and touch rugby, she has had her sights set on rugby league for a while.

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She said: “From a young age I’ve always been on the sports field. The first ever picture of me as a baby was with a rugby ball, so it was destined from the start, I didn’t really have a choice in that factor.

“Literally any sport I could get my hands on I’ve always gone and done it, I represented Man City at U12s.

“Netball was originally the path I took, I played internationally and captained Abu Dhabi. I’ve played touch rugby since the age of nine, representing the middle east. I was only 15 playing in an open age competition, coming up against professional players.

“To have that experience, travelling with them and being with them was amazing.

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“More recently I’ve played for Wigan Touch Warriors and we’ve won the National Touch Series. I’ve also represented the North West Women.

“I was playing both sports at the same time until I went to Millfield, which is a boarding school down south. I arrived with the ambition of netball, which I did do, but I went to one rugby contact training and just fell in love with it.

“My mum was gutted because she wanted me to pursue netball, but it wasn’t the one for me.

“It’s the team aspect of rugby that’s good for me. Everyone is on the same page, and are there to make each other excel. There is no ‘I’ in it, it is a team. You learn so much from it: courage, strength, respect. You can take that into all aspects of life.”

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Harborow believes her time with Wigan Touch Warriors has really helped her to improve her skills, but admits she had to quickly get used to the contact side of things on her Wigan debut.

“Touch is brilliant,” she added.

“I feel like a lot of league players should give it a go because the skills are so transferable, especially spotting the gaps because you can’t just run through people. You need to have the speed and the pace.

“I played 60 minutes in my first game (for Wigan Warriors Women), and got some big hits along the way but it was great, I just got back up and got stuck in and it’s just brilliant.

“I’d love to be a part of winning something with the women’s team. Just being part of the team alone is amazing, but to win something would be outstanding.”

Haborow says she’s delighted with the way women’s rugby is growing and the opportunities that are being presented to them.

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“In the York game we had a double header with the mens playing as well, and it seemed to have that extra atmosphere around it because you’ve got people coming watching who have never seen a women’s game,” she explained.

“There are always those nerves that you want to impress so they’ll come back again.

"A lot of people who have a preconceived idea of the women’s game, so it’s great when they do come, we can prove to them we can play rugby and be as good as the men.

“Just to play on the same pitch is an honour in itself. To be treated equally is all great and all adds to it.”

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