YORK Valkyrie will roll the dice for the second half of the Betfred Women’s Super League season as they look to rediscover the form of last season’s historic double.

Having claimed an unprecedented second consecutive League Leaders’ Shield and first Grand Final in 2023, Lindsay Anfield’s side have struggled to reach those heights so far this time around.

Back-to-back defeats to title rivals Leeds Rhinos and St Helens were the Valkyrie’s first in three years, with injuries, illness and captain Sinead Peach’s pregnancy all contributing factors.

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As such, Anfield will switch things up when her side return from their five-week break against Barrow Raiders this lunchtime (12pm).

Liv Gale - absent from the squad for a number of weeks - is set to start into the second row, with hooker Remi Wilton taking her place at half-back, whilst a debut for impressive loose forward Megan Pakulis is also on the cards against the newly-promoted Cumbrians.

“We’ve got a lot of new players coming in,” Anfield told The Press.

“We’ve got Megan Pakulis, the Canadian international - she’s here and has been with us a couple of weeks, and we’re really looking forward to seeing how she goes.

“We’ve got Evie Sexton from Hull, who’s been shining in the Under 19s. She’s going to be starting in the centres.

“Tara [Jane Stanley] is back, we’ve got Remi Wilton in the half-backs now and Liv Gale in the second row.

“We’ve made an awful lot of changes, which will obviously take some time to adapt to, but hopefully as the season goes on, we’ll find some fluency in these new roles.”

Whilst Anfield admits that it is a risk, she believes that now is the time to ring in the changes.

“It will be interesting to see,” she admitted. “We’re just trying it out and trying to find the right combinations.

“It just didn’t seem to be working with Liv in the half-back role, and she didn’t enjoy it. She’s obviously a great player and she just wants to run, so let’s give her the freedom to go and do that and see how she gets on.

“The first couple of games is going to be a bit of trial and error to see how people go.

“It’s just exciting as a coach to have the ability and the depth in the squad to be able to do that.”

It was a tough battle at Craven Park, with the Valkyrie running out 28-8 victors earlier in the season.It was a tough battle at Craven Park, with the Valkyrie running out 28-8 victors earlier in the season. (Image: Alan Milner/Milner Creative/York RLFC)

Barrow are today's visitors to the LNER, with their men’s team taking on York Knights later that afternoon.

An Emma Kershaw-inspired performance saw the Valkyrie run out 28-8 victors at Craven Park earlier this year, with the outside back crossing the whitewash four times.

Their hosts though battled back after the break, nilling the reigning champions as an Emma Hutchinson double brought them onto the scoreboard late on.

“They gave us a tough test, they really did,” Anfield reflected.

“A kid asked me the other day [what she thought of Barrow] and they said that Barrow are always a tricky team. I said ‘they are, they really are, especially when they’re at home'.

“It’ll be a really good marker for us off the back of that to see where we are now.

“In that game, we picked up a couple of injuries, Tara’s knee was bad. There was quite a lot of adversity up there.

“We still came away with the win, which was great, but to be able to play them again at home after we’ve had this sort of mini pre-season, it’s going to be a real test of where we are.

“I’m really hoping that the girls stand up strong at the weekend.”