One of the more genuine people you are ever likely to meet in the game – the only time you can't take Steph Hancock at her word is when she talks about retirement.
She has tried to before and failed; yet another word you would not normally associated with one of the most respected and recognisable female rugby league players.
Last year was supposed to be her last in the representative arena – and after co-captaining her country to a World Cup win alongside her great mate Renae Kunst (pictured below); it would have been a triumphant closing chapter to a career that had almost done it all.
But the motivation to play in a bona fide State of Origin (recognised as such in name and stature this year) and the chance to chase the goal of playing in the inaugural NRL Women's competition saw her ignore the ever-present aches and pains in her shoulders and her knees to go around again.
After a tough season with Souths Logan and a commitment to the representative pathway provided by Central Division (Region) – from playing for South West at the 47th Battalion Carnival, onto a Central Crows team to vie for selection in the Queensland Country team that took park in the inaugural Harvey Norman Women’s National Championships.
Some inspired performances at the three-day event held on the Gold Coast saw her retain her place in the Queensland team to play NSW in the inaugural Women’s State of Origin match – after previously representing her state in 13 games.
Part of the leadership group in the side given her experience and dedication to the jersey; the support she provided newcomers in camp and her physically uplifting performance when she came off the bench saw her claim the Coach’s Award from mentor Jason Hetherington and his assist coaches Karyn Murphy and Nat Dwyer.
The time she gave to other women and girls involved in the game also game into consideration; with fulltime Senior Constable having put her hand up to coach an Under 14 Outback girls side earlier this year as well.
Despite some tough competition from her fellow Harvey Norman Women’s Representative player of the Year nominees: - 2018 Players’ Player Annette Brander, Australia / Queensland / Broncos halfback Ali Brigginshaw and two-time winner Brittany Breayley; Hancock was a deserved – if somewhat surprised given her humble nature – winner at the QRL Gala Awards night.
Women's Rep Player of the Year: Steph Hancock
After making her Broncos debut yesterday in their trial win over the PNG Orchids; a dream that's been 16 seasons in the making is set to become reality next week when the Broncos host the Dragons in their maiden Holden NRL Women’s Premiership match.
The support of friends, family, team-mates current and past has helped her to continue to blaze a trail for women in league and many will be hoping she (and her knees) can keep going for many more years – retirement can wait!