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Steph Hancock declared an historic premiership win with the Titans would be the “perfect” way to end her illustrious career, but after reneging on past retirement announcements the 41-year-old won’t say if Sunday’s grand final against the Knights is her farewell.

Hancock began playing before the five teen stars in the Titans line-up - Chantay Kiria-Ratu, Destiny Mino-Sinipati, Rilee Jorgensen, Sienna Lofipo and Dannii Perese - were born, and every time she has given the game away she has returned.

The former Test and Origin forward also spent a decade playing alongside Gold Coast coach Karyn Murphy, who is the first woman in charge of a grand final team.

Steph Hancock celebrates the Titans semi-final win with Karina Brown and Niall Williams-Guthrie.
Steph Hancock celebrates the Titans semi-final win with Karina Brown and Niall Williams-Guthrie. ©Brett Costello/NRL Photos

“I’ve been lucky enough to start my career with Murph as my halfback and I am fortunate enough to still be playing with her as my coach,” said Hancock, who has played 20 Tests for the Jillaroos and 16 Origins for Queensland.

“Obviously this season she got to pick her own roster and I think that had a little bit to do with what's going on at the Titans. She is the kind of person you want to play football for her, and she has had an impact on the club and the girls.”

Hancock has taken Jorgensen under her wing as the 18-year-old firebrand has developed cult hero status in the NRLW with her bone-rattling tackling style and refusal to take a backward step.

After a heated confrontation with Jillaroos playmaker Tarryn Aitken in last Sunday’s 12-0 semi-final defeat of Sydney Roosters, Jorgensen revealed that her intention had been to “get in her head”.

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“She’s a good country kid who loves her footy,” Hancock said. “She has been playing forever and she's so proud to be a Titan. I can't even put into words what it is like to play with these girls … it is the best feeling.

“That's probably why I can't give it away, to be honest. I have been watching those kids play schoolgirls, so it’s like playing with your sisters. It’s awesome.

“They're all 18 or 19, so if they're still playing at 41 like me, you can just imagine how good they will be. They've all got long, healthy careers in front of them, which just excites me so much.”

Props taking conversions: Steph Hancock edition

Unlike her teenage team-mates, Hancock was forced to quit the game she loves at nine years of age because of rules about girls playing and she only resumed as a 20-year-old in 2003 with Toowoomba Fillies.

After just four games, Hancock was chosen as the 75th player to represent the Jillaroos and she played alongside Murphy, who was player No.42.

Murphy remains the second most capped Australian player with 27 Test appearances before retiring after the historic 2013 World Cup triumph, while Hancock held the tryscoring record (13) until being surpassed by Sam Bremner at last year's World Cup.

Karyn Murphy and Tahnee Norris (r) led the Jillaroos to their first World Cup win in 2013
Karyn Murphy and Tahnee Norris (r) led the Jillaroos to their first World Cup win in 2013

“To know Murph for the last 20 plus years and to see her after the siren went last weekend is what it's still all about,” Hancock said. “She deserves it after all the hard work she has put in.”

“To play in the grand final means so much because to have Murph as the coach, and then to do it with Britt [Breayley-Nati] and Karina Brown; we're not going to be around forever.

“If that is the way it ends then I don't think it gets any more perfect than that.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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