Shropshire Star

Freya Turner making impressive steps with the Leopards

A Shropshire-born former powerlifter is making a name for herself in the sport of rugby league at Leigh Leopards.


Freya Turner, 21, was born and raised in Bridgnorth where her only experience of rugby was small amounts of Union during PE Lessons at Oldbury Wells school.

However, since she began studying at the University of Liverpool, the youngster has found her calling as a winger for the Super League Group Two side.

Her father, John, explained: “Both Freya and her twin sister Eilish touched on rugby a little bit at school, but as soon as they got to uni they decided it was a great opportunity to be social, build fitness and have that escapism from studies.”

While the Turners did not come from a rugby background in Shropshire, both were keen athletes.

Prior to the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Freya and Eilish were successful powerlifters and held several regional records between them.

Their interest in rugby league sparked into life when the pair moved to universities in the north west of England.

Eilish, who went to Salford to study nursing, shared a house with a member of the Leigh Leopards squad who encouraged the twins to come down to a trial session at the beginning of the 2022/23 season.

Neither were able to showcase their talents due to injury, but one year later Freya returned, fully fit and ready to stake a claim for a spot in the 30-woman squad for the 2023/24 season.

“Freya is just someone who loves training and wants to compete all the time, and that’s probably the thing that first caught my eye,” Kieron Purtill, head coach of Leigh Leopards, said. “She thrived in the physical side of things and our environment of pushing yourself to the limit on and off the field.”

Leigh Leopards team

He added: “She was at the front of a lot of the physical work that we did, so straight away you know you’re looking at someone who has something within them.

“I think it’s ingrained in Freya that she wants to be the best at whatever she puts her mind to, and that’s probably why she turned up injured to the trial and then came back again this season.”

With no background in the sport, Freya was forced to start from scratch alongside a squad of women with years of rugby league experience.

But despite that, Purtill revealed the 21-year-old has made impressive progress during her time with the first team.

“Freya would be the first person to tell you that her in-depth knowledge of rugby league, particularly when she first came to us, was probably a bit below our other girls,” the head coach said. “A lot of our girls have been playing for many years whereas Freya’s quite new to it, but her attitude to ask questions and absorb information was really good.”

Purtill continued: “Freya’s an intelligent person and her ability to take in information and act on it is really good, which is where some people struggle.

“It’s not very often we have to tell Freya twice. We tell her, she gets it, and she gets going with it.”

And her achievements are not lost on her father John, who revealed the first moment he realised quite how serious his daughter’s new ‘hobby’ had become.

“When your daughter suddenly starts rattling off her fixtures and says: ‘There’s an international break on that weekend'. That’s when I thought, ‘Okay this is something serious now, you’re playing in a league that has an international break?’

“To be honest, I was blown away.”