Challenge Cup: Playing, coaching, new baby - a week in the life of Adam Cuthbertson

Adam Cuthbertson
Cuthbertson joined Leeds Rhinos from Australian NRL side Newcastle Knights ahead of the 2015 season
Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final
Venue: The University of Bolton Stadium Date: Sunday, 5 August Kick-off: 14:45 BST Coverage: Live on BBC One, coverage on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC local radio and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

Few weeks in the life of Leeds Rhinos prop Adam Cuthbertson will be quite so busy, quite so eventful, and possibly quite so sleep-deprived as the one he is currently experiencing.

The 33-year-old is balancing preparations as a player for Sunday's Challenge Cup semi-final against Warrington with coaching Leeds in Saturday's Women's Challenge Cup final and becoming a new father.

Quite a challenge.

"I'm juggling a lot of hats, and I'd like to think I'm excelling," the Australian told BBC Sport.

"We've had a baby boy, arrived last Friday, and it's all blurred into one since the arrival. He's healthy and mum's healthy so it's been very exciting times around the household.

"There's not much sleep going on at the minute. It's keeping me on my toes, along with the girls on the weekend and us playing in the semis. It's been 'well timed' but I'm very excited and happy."

'It gives me something else to focus on'

Life as a professional rugby league player is a bruising existence, physically demanding and when struggling, as Leeds have done at times in 2018, equally as tough mentally.

Leeds' league form has seen them finish out of the top eight for the second time in three seasons, while coaching has its own pressures.

The impending and subsequent arrival of a new-born has given Cuthbertson a different purpose.

"It gives me something else to focus on," he said. "It's not always good to think about rugby 24/7 because it can have the opposite effect - you can get bored or tired of it.

"To go home and to have another challenge - a great, beautiful experience - is great because, at the end of the day, I want to go home.

"It gives me a chance to think about important things and leave rugby at the training paddock. When I'm at work I think about that but away from work it's a great distraction."

'We're like a small family'

Media playback is not supported on this device

Women's Super League: Bradford Bulls and Leeds Rhinos get new season off to a flier

Cuthbertson's appointment as head coach for 2018 has coincided with a successful season so far for the fledgling female Rhinos, who were admitted to the Women's Super League for their inaugural campaign.

The team are top of the table with seven wins from eight matches so have the opportunity to secure a double - just as their coach does with men's and women's cup victories.

"We haven't won anything yet as a team," Cuthbertson added.

"But I think everyone's so heavily invested in things - we're like a small family. Everyone buys in, and it would be very satisfying if we can put it together on Saturday and win."

Cuthbertson's burgeoning coaching career has been a personal release, as well as a catalyst for the success the expanded competition has enjoyed in terms of exposure.

"The announcement of Adam coming in was something that helped Women's Super League get off the ground," captain Lois Forsell said.

"He's really invested in the project, his commitment is outstanding and we have all appreciated that."

From fan to captain

Leeds Rhinos ladies celebrate
Leeds Rhinos Women are top of the Women's Super League

Forsell was the first player to sign for the new women's side when she moved from Bradford Bulls last winter on the back of her 2017 World Cup commitments.

She had already won the treble with the Bulls - traditionally fierce rivals of the Rhinos - but her allegiance was always at Headingley.

The Rhinos fan, who works for the club's Community Foundation, fulfilled a childhood dream when she joined and will add to a whirlwind debut campaign with a trophy if Leeds can beat Castleford at Warrington's Halliwell Jones Stadium.

"It's a massive game," the England international told BBC Sport.

"I've been involved in finals before but it's a bit different this time, playing for my hometown club and captaining the side, creating history."

Players have come from near and far to play for the Rhinos, some have also swapped the terraces for the paddock or even changed sports.

"The WSL brought a girl like Shannon Lacey to a taster," Forsell continued.

"She played football before but was a life-long Rhinos season-ticket holder who got involved and ended up playing in a Challenge Cup final. It's the power of the sport.

"Then there are people like Courtney Hill. She's a professional cricketer from Australia and has come over to play a bit of rugby.

"She said she thought she'd come and have a shot. She too is about to play in a cup final."

Salvage mission

Once Saturday's final is over, Cuthbertson will swiftly turn his attentions to his own 80-minute pursuit of success at the University of Bolton Stadium.

With survival still in the balance in a hugely competitive Qualifiers division, which includes fellow full-timers Hull KR, Salford, Widnes, London Broncos and Toronto Wolfpack, Leeds fans are desperate for a lift.

"It gives us a great opportunity to salvage what has been a disappointing season, not just for the players but the fans and the club," he said.

"It's a great opportunity to pick up silverware - and not just any silverware either. It's one of the greatest trophies to lift in rugby league history."

So, will the new arrival be in attendance to share in 'daddy's' possible success?

"If it was in Yorkshire - and that's not a dig at the Rugby Football League - then he might have come along, but it's a bit too much," he laughed.

"He doesn't care too much about rugby league at the moment. All he wants to do is eat and sleep."

Top Stories