By Ellie Indie

Teenage talent Ana Da Silva believes the struggles of Huddersfield Giants Women last season will make them stronger this time around.

It’s a historic season for Giants Women as the club turned professional in December last year and they are determined to make a big impact in the new campaign.

Giants Women finished sixth and bottom of Group One of the Betfred Women’s Super League in 2023 and will be part of an expanded eight-team league when it kicks off in April.

At just 17 Da Silva is one of the most exciting young prospects in the Women’s Super League and she was quickly elevated from the Under-19s into the first team last season.

Born in Portugal and raised in Guinea-Bissau, Da Silva was Player of the Year for the Giants Under-19s and is now very much part of the first team squad.

“I moved up slightly earlier than some of the other U19s, so I was thrown into the deep end a little bit,” said Da Silva.

“But the staff and players have all been very supportive and helpful in helping me ease into it.

“I remember Bethan Oates, our captain, making the extra effort to help me out as a newcomer as well as Amelia Brown, Lois Naidole and Sienna McPherson taking me under their wing, which made a nerve-wracking experience a little more comfortable.”

By her own admission, it wasn’t an easy year. The Giants bowed out of the Women’s Challenge Cup in the quarter-finals versus Wigan and finished bottom of the table.

Da Silva told how the tough moments brought the players together and said: “It wasn’t easy going through a season like we did.

“At the time those losses didn’t feel great but, looking back on it, I think it’s made us stronger as a team as we came out of the other end with a fighting spirit.

“On a personal note, it’s taught me how to persevere through tough situations and it builds character but I am definitely looking forward to experiencing many more highs in 2024.”

One of the highs of last season was their iconic 20-16 win over Leeds Rhinos at Headingley Stadium.

“Playing at a stadium is always added pressure, especially coming up against one of the top three. The odds were stacked against us.

“We played our best, stuck it out together and never gave up. It was so rewarding to get a result out of all the hard work that went into the game.”

Wanting to build on the momentum built in 2023, Da Silva said: “Everyone has wanted to build and improve on last year, which has been clear in our pre-season training.

“John, our strength and conditioning coach has not made it easy for us, I will say that, but I’m glad we have an S&C coach who pushes us because that makes us stronger and strive to improve.

“We as a team want to compete and cause some upsets this season, and it won’t come without hard work so I think the tough training we had was necessary.”

Da Silva has a new role at centre for this season and played there for the first time in a pre-season friendly against Barrow. It only took her five minutes to make an impact, scoring her first try for the club.

“It was great to finally get a try for the Giants and I’m glad that I’ve started my journey as centre positively and I hope to continue that way,” she said.

“I’m quite confident in my ability as a centre. I think playing with confidence boosts your performance more and that’s what could give me that edge over other centres in the Super League.

“I want to be able to show that, although I am one of the youngest in the WSL, I am more than capable of performing well at this level of rugby.

“As a team, we hope to bring exciting and high-quality games to the fans at Laund Hill this season. They can be excited, feel welcomed and get involved with the team.”

Main image by: Andrew Hampshaw