You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Jillaroos captain Steph Hancock is still coming to terms with becoming a famous face in rugby league.

Tell Steph Hancock that one of the new members of the Jillaroos training squad is too in awe to approach her and the Australian skipper's face instantly begins to turn red.

Less than 24 hours earlier she was locked in a room with some of the game's most respected minds at her first meeting as part of the NRL competition committee, following an invitation she received from Todd Greenberg, read more than a dozen times and then rang the NRL to let them know they must have made a mistake.

But this is the position the captain of the Australian women's rugby league team now holds and her impact is being felt right across the country.

Ilaisaane Finau – herself with rich rugby league bloodlines that includes former Kiwi prop Jason Lowrie – was invited to the Gold Coast for a three-day camp last weekend after being spotted playing for Western Australia at the State Afiliates championships in Darwin earlier this year.

Hailing from Port Hedland in the north-west corner of WA, Finau is a prop like Hancock and could barely contain her excitement at sharing a football field with the Aussie skipper.

"Steph is like my idol and for her to be here, oh my gosh... I just don't even look at her," Finau tells

"I'm trying to keep my distance; she's like Sonny Bill [Williams] to me."

Like that invitation to join the competition committee, it is information Hancock doesn't really know to process.

"No way; she's not telling the truth," Hancock says.

"I get private messages on Facebook from kids wanting signatures or stuff or clothes and it is daunting.

"Even if I go out home to Killarney or if I'm at the shopping centre at Warwick I've got young kids asking for my autograph. It's being asked to go to schools and speak to young kids about their problems and getting involved with footy, it's a bigger picture than just playing footy for 80 minutes these days.

"Walking in [to the competition committee meeting] there's Trent Robinson and Michael Maguire, Johnny Lang, 'Locky' (Darren Lockyer), Wayne Pearce so I sat down the end and for my first meeting just took it all in and didn't say too much."

In the two years since the Jillaroos' World Cup win in England the exposure of the women's game has climbed exponentially with a new major sponsor in Harvey Norman taking away any costs associated with travelling to camps and major events.

In February the Jillaroos and Kiwi Ferns will again be at the forefront of the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines and then the Aussie girls back up to take on the Women's Indigenous All Stars before the mid-year Test against the Kiwi Ferns.

"Because [the Nines] was televised when we got home, everyone at work, family... I had something like 87 new Facebook friend requests which is just ridiculous," Hancock said.

"I got private messages from people saying they had met me before, how impressed they were with how hard we hit and that it was the best game of footy they'd seen in a long time, things like that.

"Random people at the shops pulled me up and said, 'You played at the Nines.' It went a little bit hectic when we got home.

"Then the Anzac Test was televised and we got a lot of feedback from that and it's all very positive."

And they're just getting started. 

Acknowledgement of Country

National 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.

Premier Partner

Media Partners

Major Partners

View All Partners