York City Knights Ladies are delighted to announce the signing of England international full-back Tara Stanley from Castleford Tigers for the 2022 campaign.
Widnes-born Stanley initially played football for Everton as a youngster before beginning her rugby league journey with Moorfield Angels before representing Thatto Heath Crusaders in 2016 and 2017. Following that spell, Stanley moved to Yorkshire and, from the 2018 season, represented Castleford in the Betfred Women's Super League.
Involved in the England international setup from a young age, Stanley was second-choice full-back to now-York City Knights Director of Rugby Lindsay Anfield at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
Now a first-choice for her country and regarded as one of the best full-backs in the world, Stanley has 13 England appearances to her name, including the October test against France in Perpignan where she lined up alongside new Knights teammates Savannah Andrade and Grace Field, a player she will know well from her days with the Tigers.
Renowned for her agility, footwork, ball-handling and goal-kicking, Stanley - a 2018 Woman of Steel nominee - will add further quality to an already-impressive Knights squad, something Director of Rugby Anfield is delighted about.
"I’ve known Tara for over ten years now and we've got a great working relationship. I've both played with her and coached her so I was delighted when she decided to make the move to York.
"We don't have an established full-back at the moment so she will be a fantastic asset at the back. To add that confidence and that experience of bossing the defensive line is going to be huge for us and, hopefully, Tara will add to our ability to compete with the best teams in the league next season.
"As a player, Tara is as safe a full-back as you can get. She is great technically, defensively really strong and is really knowledgeable in that position at the back. She's a brilliant team player, socially gets on really well with everybody so I have no doubt that she will fit in extremely well into the squad we are building at York."
As part of the new era for York City Knights Ladies, each player receives unprecedented medical cover, something Stanley pointed to as a key reason for joining the club.
"For me, I came back from quite a significant back injury last year so the medical support that I have received, the physio access and all the rehabilitation work I can do has - and will - help me massively so that was a big part in me moving over."
On joining the Knights, Stanley couldn't hide her delight at signing.
"I'm really enjoying myself at York. I've been here for a couple of weeks and I’ve settled in really nicely. Obviously, I know a few of the girls so that has helped but even the new girls, everybody has been really welcoming and I’m having a great time.
As Stanley began to break through into the England setup, she was actually understudy to the Knights Ladies' Director of Rugby Anfield.
"When I came in, Lindsay was number one full-back and we were competing for the shirt. We've trained a lot together since then, she’s obviously coached me, and she has always supported me in wanting to be the best full-back in the game. Hopefully now, being back coached by Lindsay and Callum (Windley), I’ll be able to kick on."