WOMEN'S rugby league remains in an embryonic phase but anyone doubting the dedication and professionalism of its players has clearly never met Tara Stanley.

The England international was the latest player to depart Castleford Tigers Women for York City Knights Ladies during the off-season and has quickly settled into her new club, both on and off the field.

Stanley bagged five tries on her York debut at Dewsbury Moor and played a starring role in the victory over Wigan Warriors, as the Knights set up a Betfred Challenge Cup quarter-final tie with Oulton Raidettes on Sunday (2pm).

Off the field though, Stanley is also making a keen impact in her first season with the Knights.

"The coaching staff here are amazing and they will do anything for you," hailed Stanley.

“I’ve messaged a fair few of them at a ridiculous time of night saying ‘I want to do this at training tomorrow’ and they’ve said ‘Okay, we’ll sort it.’

“It’s a professional environment and that’s what I thrive off.

“I do reflect on my games a lot, probably more than Lindsay (Anfield, director of rugby) would like me to.

"In one session, my kicks weren’t going right and I messaged Callum (Windley), the assistant coach, that night, saying ‘I need to work on this’.

“If there’s ever a Super League game on TV, I’ll say to myself ‘Watch him, and do it like him’.

“I’m always on the ball with rugby, I live and breathe it. Sometimes I do need to chill out a bit", laughed Stanley.

Even just two matches into her York career, it is evident that Stanley has quickly become of the side's senior players. Anyone who watched the number one in the Knights' 46-0 win over Wigan last month could attest to the vocal leadership skills that the former Woman of Steel nominee possesses.

“I watched York last season and had conversations with Lindsay at the back end of the year, and we spoke about taking my full-back game up a notch," revealed Stanley.

“Full-back is an authoritative position and you’re telling people where to go. I expect people to listen to me and if they don’t, I’ll have something to say about it.

“The position I play in allows me to have that leadership from the back.

“I have got the England caps, but I don’t think it matters what someone has previously done, it’s about what they do there and then on the field.”

Stanley and co. return to the LNER Community Stadium this weekend in what will be their first standalone fixture at the ground.

The move by the club is a continuation of its backing of the Ladies ever since last year's major recruitment drive in players and backroom staff.

“It was a big shock when Lindsay told us, it was a massive surprise," admitted Stanley. "We’re chuffed that the club are doing what they do for the men, for us, which I don’t think any other club has done.

“The club are really making an event of this. In the women’s game, even though there’s been massive improvements in how it was, it tends to be that we’d be before the men’s game or afterwards.

“Now we’re a standalone event with people willing to pay to come and watch us and make a day of it, which is what we want.

“We want to show the fans what we’ve been working on and we’ll have such a good stage to show them what we’re all about."

Having been edged out in last year's Cup final, Stanley did not hide from her desire to see York go one better in 2022.

“I want to win everything with York," Stanley bluntly added. "It’s massive that we put on a performance and we get to the final and put another strong performance then.”