Aussie great to call it quits
Former Jillaroos captain Steph Hancock has confirmed that 2017 will be her 15th and final year playing rugby league, eyeing a Rugby League World Cup victory as a fairytale farewell at Suncorp Stadium in December.
A stalwart of the Jillaroos for more than a decade and the daughter of former Queensland and Kangaroos Test representative Rohan Hancock, Hancock has been named in the squad to face the Kiwi Ferns in Canberra next Friday for what will be one of her final Test appearances.
Made captain of the Jillaroos after Karyn Murphy's retirement following their historic World Cup win in 2013, Hancock told NRL.com that given the healthy state of the women's game and work and family commitments it is time to step aside.
"This is definitely my last year. One hundred per cent," Hancock told NRL.com.
"I honestly want to just have a year off. I don't want to talk footy, I don't want to do anything, I just want to be a normal person for one year.
"I know that sounds really silly.
"Honestly it will be great to just go fishing for the weekend or go out to Mum and Dad's, not have to race home from work to go to footy training, be able to go and watch my daughter play sport on the weekend rather than worrying about my own sport.
"I honestly can't wait to actually have a holiday, away from footy that's not footy related. Like camp for instance, I had to take five days holidays.
"It will be great to actually maybe go overseas and have a holiday and not have to play a game of footy."
The reality for members of the Jillaroos squad is that as far as the game has come there is still a way to go before they can become full-time professional athletes, their commitment to the game coming at the expense of time with family and any annual leave they accrue in their chosen workplace.
But unlike players who retired on the eve of the Super League war breaking out and the explosion of cash that came into the game, Hancock says she has no regrets about walking away just as the women's game is ready to take off.
"If you look at when I first started the amount that it's improved, I'm proud of that," Hancock said.
"I'm proud to be a part of paving the way for the girls. I don't look at it as a negative thing at all.
"Obviously once I'm retired I want to be part of the team still; I might have to go and do some study and get some Cert to come and run the water but I'm proud to be a part of it.
"There's nothing negative.
"I look at Karyn Murphy and see that she is part of the team still and that makes me happy. I'm glad that the girls have got this whole new future in front of them."