Sport

Killamey leader for our jillaroos

INDUCTED: Rohan and Stephanie Hancock after Cowboys Wall of Legends induction.
INDUCTED: Rohan and Stephanie Hancock after Cowboys Wall of Legends induction. Gerard Walsh

STEPHANIE Hancock reckons she has something on "big Roh" after being named Australian Jillaroos captain.

The former Killarney student now works in Brisbane and has been honoured with the captaincy following the retirement of halfback Karen Murphy.

Stephanie is a second generation Australian player and is often reminded of a New Zealand tackle by Kevin Tamati, which gave her father Rohan Hancock concussion in a Trans-Tasman game in 1982.

"The girls in the Jillaroos have all seen the 1982 tackle on YouTube," Stephanie said.

While her father played in the first State of Origin game in 1980 and for the Kangaroos, he never captained Australia so Stephanie now has the bragging rights.

She admits it was always a dream to be named captain.

"It hasn't really sunk in, I had a call from Ma (grandmother Millie Hancock) on Wednesday night. She is one of my greatest supporters, I thought it was too late to ring her but Dad had told her," Stephanie said.

She will captain her country for the first time at 12.30pm Sunday against New Zealand at Win Stadium, Wollongong.

The Australian front row will take on a distinct Southern Downs flavour with Stephanie to be joined up front by former The Scots PGC College student Heather Ballinger.

She was a boarder at Scots PGC for five years.

Stephanie and Heather are five of the 32-year-olds in the team and both recall competing against each other in Warwick athletics.

"I won the javelin and Heather won the shot-put," Stephanie said.

Stephanie won a national open title in javelin.

"I love playing beside Heather, if I am near her in defence, I know Heather will hit them hard," she said.

Ballinger is already thinking about the next World Cup after the Aussies beat the Kiwis for the first time in women's rugby league history in last year's cup final.

Stephanie will kick the ball off for the Aussies on Sunday but won't be kicking for goal.

If the Jillaroos are after territory, Stephanie will be the one for a 40/20 kick.

"They sometimes throw me the ball to kick it downtown," she said.

Ballinger was not surprised when Stephanie was given the captaincy.

"A lot of the girls look up to her," she said.

Ballinger is a federal police officer in Cairns and first played in 2006.

"It is great to be playing beside Stephanie. We have to give it to the Kiwis from the start on Sunday."

Topics:  rugby league, sport, warwick



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