Kelsey, 22, only started playing rugby when she was 16 – now she represents her country in the sport.
The young player who grew up around Gipton and Harehills started her rugby career at an east Leeds club before heading to Castleford Tigers and in 2019, she made her England debut against Papua New Guinea in Goroka.
In 2020, she also made history when a video of her tackle against Australia in the World Cup Nines went viral on Facebook amassing more than 34.5 million views – making this the most-watched clip of a female athlete globally in 2020, Total Rugby League reports.
“I first played when I was 11 years old for the school team. My brothers were playing rugby so I used to watch them play,” Kelsey said speaking to Leeds Live.
“I played three games because my mum and dad didn’t want me to play rugby, they said it was too rough so I played football instead. When I was 16-years-old I wanted to play for an actual team I got on two buses to do my training and I’ve been playing since.
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“I started by playing for East Leeds when I was 16, then for Castleford Tigers and then to England. I just wanted to play, I had no intention to play for England, I played for fun when I started when I went to Castleford Tigers. I didn’t know the rules, I had been playing for seven months when I got my first contract.”
Kelsey, who is also studying a part-time PE bachelors degree at Leeds Beckett University, with plans to go into teaching, is still shocked at how far she has come in her rugby career.
However, her success means she does miss out on normal parts of her youth such as going out clubbing as well as drinking during the season.
But Kelsey says the discipline from the sport is paying off so she doesn’t mind and her best friends are supportive of her career.
She continued: “It’s hard when all your friends are going out and they all have that freedom to go out when they want and you have to accept you don’t have that freedom.
“I can’t go out drinking in season, I think that’s the hardest part, seeing like you’re missing out.
“The sacrifices are paying off, I think I would feel different if I wasn’t getting anywhere but I’ve been successful and hard work does pay off.
“It’s really shocking, you would never think a girl from Mount St Mary’s could do something like that.
“No one in my family has encouraged me to play at first. I was small and petite, they thought I would get crushed – although that part is true, they have supported me. My mum is my biggest fan, she has come around the world to watch me play.
“My mum and dad are great, my brothers Leon and Tyrone are so proud of me.
“I’ve had a few injuries, small injuries, broke both arms, dislocated my shoulder, I’ve had quite a few injuries but I don’t mind them.”
She added: “I study PE so I can do teaching. It’s important for me because we’re not full time, we don’t have full-time contracts.
“You need something to fall back on, I’ve always known it’s important to get a degree.”
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Kelsey hopes to inspire more girls and women from all backgrounds to play rugby.
The Rugby League World Cup 2021 will take place in England from October 23 to November 27.
In what has been described as a breakthrough moment for rugby league, the men’s, women’s and wheelchair games will all come together for the first time on the sport’s biggest stage and England 2021 will be one game.
Every match of the women’s game will be broadcast live on the BBC, projected across the globe, and promoted to a new generation of players.
England 2021 will see eight women’s teams compete over 18 days, culminating in a massive weekend of finals where Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair nations will be crowned Rugby League World Cup Champions.