Two women from West Yorkshire, who played Rugby League for their country in the 1990s and 2000s, winning a total of 36 caps between them, are to have their achievements honoured in the prestigious Women’s Rugby League Hall of Fame.

Brenda Dobek, from near Castleford and Lisa McIntosh from Halifax in West Yorkshire will be joined by Sally Milburn from Barrow in Cumbria. They are the first three women players ever to receive this accolade.

All three were trailblazers during their playing career, helping to lay the foundations which have led to the development of the Women’s Super League, and to the most inclusive Rugby League World Cup in history in England this autumn when men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions run concurrently.

Now they will be history-makers again, as they become the inaugural inductees into the Women’s Hall of Fame, to sit alongside the existing 28 members of the Men’s Hall of Fame.

Lisa McIntosh, 55, who captained the GB Lionesses on their winning 1996 tour to Australia, was amazed when she heard the news: “It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” she said. “I’d pretty much put my rugby days behind me and now suddenly we’re back in the limelight. Obviously I’m delighted.

“We didn’t think we were pioneers at the time. We played the sport and we loved it and made the most of that time. I never thought I would be classed as a trailblazer and be inducted into the Rugby League Hall of Fame.”

Brenda Dobek, 61, thinks this is also fantastic opportunity for younger players to aim for: “If I was a player these days, I would be thinking, I want to be up there,” she said. “It’s just a massive privilege. Every aspiring girl will want to play for their country and get into the Hall of Fame.”

Sally Milburn, aged 47, scored the first ever test try against Australia in 1996 and won Sports Personality of the Year for Barrow in 2002.

Rugby Football League (RFL) chief executive Ralph Rimmer said: “On behalf of the whole sport I would like to congratulate Brenda, Lisa and Sally on this great accolade, which is the highest honour the sport can bestow on an individual.

“Women’s and Girls’ Rugby League is enjoying significant growth and that is possible because of the pioneering efforts and immense talents of these three outstanding players.

“With their induction into the Hall of Fame, Brenda, Lisa and Sally are recognised as the best of the best and have set a high bar for every woman and girl to aspire to.”

Rugby League Cares chairman Tim Adams MBE said: “The Women’s Rugby League Hall of Fame is a wonderful concept that gives previously unsung heroes of the sport the recognition they so richly deserve.

“There can be no doubt that Brenda, Lisa and Sally are true giants on whose shoulders the growing numbers of women and girls players in the game today stand.

“Rugby League Cares is delighted to be involved in this brilliant project and is looking forward to the historic induction ceremony in October and what will be a night to remember for everyone who attends.”

The three will be joined by the new members of the men’s Hall of Fame at an induction dinner at The Edge Arena, Wigan, on Thursday October 27, three weeks into the World Cup. A table of 10 to this prestigious event costs £500, or £50 for an individual ticket – to book tickets or for more information please email RL Cares Events Manager Catherine Maddy,

As part of the Hall of Fame celebrations there will be an exhibition called Life with the Lionesses which showcases the personal journeys of the women pioneers of International Rugby League. Visitors will be able to follow their groundbreaking journey on and off the field and see their stories and experiences brought to life, from fundraising their own tour to playing on an equal stage with their male counterparts in this year’s World Cup.

The Life with the Lionesses project is led by Julia Lee, originally from Hull and now living in Huddersfield, one of the first women to referee men’s Rugby League in the 1980s. It aims to engage with the wider community, both inside and outside of Rugby League, and to deliver a programme of activities that will celebrate the history of the women’s game. In addition, it will showcase the achievements of women involved in Rugby League and use the stories of rugby’s women pioneers to inspire new generations.