THE ULTIMATE FEELING: Stephanie Hancock (back, fourth from left) lifts the World Cup trophy up with her victorious Australian Jillaroos teammates.
THE ULTIMATE FEELING: Stephanie Hancock (back, fourth from left) lifts the World Cup trophy up with her victorious Australian Jillaroos teammates. DARREN ENGLAND/AAP

Southern Downs sport star goes out on top

FAIRYTALES don't always happen in the sporting world, yet one of the Southern Downs finest athletes was able to go out in the best possible fashion at the weekend.

Killarney-born Stephanie Hancock ended her sparkling rugby league career on Saturday, with the Australian Jillaroos defeating the New Zealand Kiwi Ferns at Suncorp Stadium.

Her career spanned 15 years, and included captaining Queensland and Australia.

Stephanie and father Rohan are the only father-daughter combo to represent Australia, and Rohan was a proud spectator on Saturday afternoon.

"Captains parents were invited into a box," Rohan said.

"I was a bit nervous myself. I went over to England for the 2013 World Cup, when it was the first time they beat New Zealand in a final.

"She has been training as hard as ever for this, and after she missed the test match earlier in the year, she worked hard to get back.

"It was good to see her have her final swansong with Renae Kunst, who is one of her best mates."

Rohan said Killarney was buzzing in the lead-up to the game.

"I went for a walk the other day, which was only a few kilometres, and 10 people pulled me up to have a chat," he said.

"Even at the cattle sale, everyone was asking how she went.

"Everybody loves her."

Former Jillaroos teammate and Warwick-bred Jo Barrett knew Stephanie from a young age, as they would compete in a lot of the same sports, including touch football and athletics.

She said she shared this sense of pride in watching her friend finish her career on a high.

"We share a passion of sports, but we were always great mates," she said.

"We've been fortunate to represent our country side by side, and we're both very close to our family and community, with a pride in where we are from.

"Stephanie wrote the name of my sick father Leo on her wrist, and I had no idea she was doing that.

"During her biggest moment, she made sure Leo was looked after. It shows how much we are connected to Warwick and Killarney."

Stephanie will continue her role as a police officer after her retirement.



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