So many people to thank for success of our game

There are a lot of people who are contributing to the success of the women's game, but there are a few who deserve to be recognised for going above and beyond to make the game what it is today. 

I can think of three who have contributed significantly. 

Brad Donald has to be number one for me. 

Brad Donald during the recent Jillaroos camp. Photo: NRL Images
Brad Donald during the recent Jillaroos camp. Photo: NRL Images

I have seen him as one of the biggest advocates of our game from the moment I met him in 2015 as my Queensland coach. I came into that team and knew straight away he was doing something great for the game. He was so passionate about women's footy. You could see it in his face and through the way he spoke. You do get people say this person or that person are really trying to help women's footy, but you can tell some are not wholeheartedly into it. But, Brad, you could tell, was completely into it. He had a plan for where he saw the women's game going and I could tell straight away he was taking our sport somewhere awesome. 

He has since been the Australian Jillaroos coach since 2017 and has gotten more and more drive. Every camp we go into, he's bringing something new with him to make us better, both on and off the field. He delves deep into every issue we can think of, to make us better. It just goes to show how far he wants to push this game for us. 

Number two for me, another big advocate, is Katie Page from Harvey Norman.

Harvey Norman CEO Katie Page and Steph Hancock. Photo: NRL Images
Harvey Norman CEO Katie Page and Steph Hancock. Photo: NRL Images

Harvey Norman is a major sponsor of women's rugby league. They've been really fantastic. I remember meeting Katie for the first time when she came to the first Jillaroos camp I ever went to in 2015 and she actually joined in our training sessions. I remember thinking how cool it was that she was there with us and you could just see it in her face that she was thinking the same about being there with us. She was genuinely excited to be part of what was happening. People don't realise how much the game costs to run. Even for us to go into camps, it costs tens of thousands of dollars. It's crazy amounts. Without sponsorship, like Harvey Norman's, it just doesn't happen. The ladies who came before us did the extreme hard yards, without the major sponsors, and used to play in tents for t-shirts pretty much. 

Number three for me is someone who has been pushing for our game for a long time - the one and only Stephanie Hancock.

Steph Hancock. Photo: NRL Images
Steph Hancock. Photo: NRL Images

She has been there through those tough days of having to fund raise to be able to play rugby league at a higher level, to now enjoying the fruits of her labour.

Steph has been juggling being a police officer, an elite female athlete and also a mother for the better part of a decade. Being just one of those alone is hard enough. But you will not hear her complain. None of that will stop her from turning up to every training session with a big smile on her face and a hug for everyone. Without her even realising it, her presence gives us energy. She pushes through every session, encouraging each player around her.  She encourages every young lady she comes across to get involved in the game. She is even my own niece's favourite player. But I'm not jealous, she's my favourite too.