YORK Valkyrie have made history after announcing that three players have been signed onto professional contracts.

Full-back Tara Jane Stanley, newly-crowned Woman of Steel Sinead Peach and forward Liv Wood have signed professional two-year contracts from the 2024 season in a first for a Betfred Women's Super League club.

Last year, the Valkyrie and fellow heavyweights Leeds Rhinos became the first two clubs to pay players in a historic move that has only served to highlight the rapid growth in women's rugby league.

But now chairman Clint Goodchild has taken his support for the Valkyrie one step further.

The contracts offered to Stanley, Peach and Wood are made up of base salaries and a range of performance-related bonuses. They also include provisions for maternity leave support and NRLW player options.

The Press understands that previous payments saw the club's players receive win bonuses only.

Goodchild's commitment for the Valkyrie sets a new precedent for the Women's Super League, and is a deserved reward after York's historic double-winning season that culminated in a first-ever Grand Final triumph earlier this month.

It also follows the trend of Australia's NRLW competition, in which players have earned a minimum of $30,000 (£16,000) in 2023, a figure that will rise to more than $50,000 (£26,800) by 2027.

Goodchild enthused his delight at being able to offer such an unprecedented move for the Valkyrie, which will put them now on par with what is currently offered to players in the men's Betfred Championship and League One competitions.

"The women's game is becoming more professional every day," he explained.

"I think that this is a big step forward in getting some security for the players and the clubs and being able to have a transparent approach to contracts and a paid structure.

"I believe that this an important step forward and I'm happy to be part of a special group of people taking that step.

"No one can question the commitment of the players last year, having taken steps to start paying the players.

"This is a significant step forward from that to where the figures become comparable to some Betfred League One contracts and, in some cases, Betfred Championship contracts.

"I think that it's just a matter of time before we have some full-time women's rugby league players in the next five to 10 years."

York Press: The Valkyrie won both the League Leaders' Shield and Grand Final in an outstanding 2023 season.The Valkyrie won both the League Leaders' Shield and Grand Final in an outstanding 2023 season. (Image: Ed Sykes/SWPix.com)

A new record crowd of almost 5,000 spectators watched on as the Valkyrie avenged their 2022 defeat to overcome Leeds in the Grand Final, with the Valkyrie also twice welcoming record crowds across the regular Women's Super League season.

And Goodchild believes that only served to highlight the support for women's rugby in York.

"If you look at the growth in rugby league, a lot of that has come off the back of the women's game, having almost 5,000 people here at the LNER Community Stadium for the Betfred Women's Super League Grand Final.

"I think that shows that there's an appetite and a market for a great product and the trend towards women's rugby league and women's sport is really positive and exciting.

"We were pleased to make Sinead, Tara and Liv the first three players to sign professional contracts, two winners of the Woman of Steel and an England international and rising star of the game respectively.

"Those three deserve all the credit that goes their way as trailblazers of women's rugby league.

"Looking ahead to 2024, hopefully we'll have a lot more double headers with York Knights and York Valkyrie, that's something that we're pushing for with the RFL, so we can continue our journey of being one club with one goal. Fingers crossed we can make that happen."

York Press: Captain Sinead Peach was crowned the Woman of Steel earlier this month.Captain Sinead Peach was crowned the Woman of Steel earlier this month. (Image: Allan McKenzie/SWPix.com)

Peach, who assumed the Valkyrie's captaincy this year on her way to being crowned the 2023 Woman of Steel, admitted that she has to pinch herself that such a move has even been possible.

To have become one of the first three women in the sport's history to sign a professional contract is undoubtedly a long way from having to set up her own team as a youngster in Hunslet.

 "What an exciting day this has been for us. If you told me that this moment would come when I was a little girl, I would have laughed at you!" she exclaimed.

"To see where women's rugby league has progressed is unbelievable and I'm super excited to sign a contract alongside Tara and Liv.

"What the club are doing here is immense and the backing that we receive some Clint and everyone else at the club is amazing.

"Little kids looking up to us can see that this sport is progressing. When I was younger, we were often scrapping around for the team.

"To see where this sport has come now and to now be signing a professional contract it's definitely a pinch-me moment."