Hancock to shelve retirement plans for Women's Origin
Queensland women's stalwart Stephanie Hancock is set to make herself available for the Holden Women's State of Origin clash at North Sydney Oval on June 22.
Newly appointed Queensland coach Jason Hetherington confirmed Hancock was desperate to help the Maroons' deny NSW what would be a third straight title.
Hancock announced her retirement from representative football prior to last year's World Cup but following the success was believed to be having second thoughts.
The 35-year-old will be named in the Queensland Country side for the National Championships on the Gold Coast in a fortnight with Hetherington giving her every chance.
"I've had a word to her and she was keen to play," Hetherington told NRL.com at the launch of the women's State of Origin at North Sydney Oval on Monday.
"She's important to our plans. I had to see if her mind was in the right place and she was ready to put her best foot forward and help the girls bring the trophy back to Queensland, which she has.
"She's got a niggling injury, she came down to the last camp with an ankle drama. I'm hopeful she's going to be available in a couple of weeks for the National Championships and then for Origin."
The Maroons have already lost Renae Kunst to retirement so the return of Hancock would be a major boost.
NSW has clawed their way back from a 17-year drought to draw one and win two of the past three clashes between the states.
With the fixture a one-off match in comparison with the men's three-game series, it is a winner takes all approach from Hetherington, who is willing to mix up the side with 17 players in the elite top-40 squad hailing from north of the border.
"We're in a rebuild [after] losing a few in the last few years but I've got those women who have retired in previous years to lend a hand there," Hetherington said.
"From what I've seen since being involved, we've come up with some pathways and plans for the girls. Queensland is such a big place geographically, so to try and get around and look at who's coming through, I've got spotters around the state helping there.
"What someone might like in someone I might not like. We've got to get the right blend and balance to compete against NSW. Now it's just about developing a process. The camps have been great, the nationals will play a big part.
"I've got high expectations and always have of our girls."
A proud Queenslander, Hetherington played eight games at Origin level in the late 1990s and wants to bring the old-school mindset to the women's game with a bit of help from former teammates.
"I've worked hard on passion and the introduction of Trevor Gillmeister to the squad in Brisbane adds to that," Hetherington said.
"He comes down to training sessions and helps me with the girls. His experience is invaluable for them. We reinforce what it means to earn that jersey and the results that come through hard work."