FIRED UP: After representing the Queensland Maroons earlier this year, Brisbane Broncos forward Steph Hancock is fired up for the start of the NRLW season this weekend.
FIRED UP: After representing the Queensland Maroons earlier this year, Brisbane Broncos forward Steph Hancock is fired up for the start of the NRLW season this weekend. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Broncos defectors leave Hancock 'filthy'

RUGBY LEAGUE: When Steph Hancock runs out for the Broncos in the second season of the NRLW this weekend, there'll be more than bringing back-to-back titles to Brisbane on her mind.

The Killarney forward was one of the first to link up with inaugural premiers Brisbane when signings began taking place mid-year, however it is the defections of former teammates to rival clubs that caught her off guard.

A number of former Broncos have jumped ship in the off-season to this weekend's opponents St George Illawarra, and Hancock said there would be no love lost out on the field when the two sides collided.

"It's going to be an interesting competition this year,” Hancock said.

"A few of our players have gone to the Dragons, Tallisha Harden has gone to the Roosters and Honey Hireme (previously St George Illawarra) is off to the Warriors, so it will exciting.

"I've played most of my rep footy with Brittany Breayley, and I thought I was going to sign my contract with her.

"I love her, but on Sunday I'm not going to love her that's for sure.

"We formed good friendships with our Kiwi Ferns forward pack members (Ngatokotoru Arakua and Teuila Fotu-Moala) who have gone to the Dragons.

"I was thinking they were all going to re-sign. I'm filthy at them for not coming back, so there will be no love lost.”

Hancock has flirted with the idea of retirement in recent times, including going on the record and stating the 2017 season would be her last.

However she said the growth of the women's game, including the NRLW and State of Origin, had kept the burning desire alive inside her.

"I enjoyed it so much last year. It was one of the most enjoyable seasons I've had,” she said.

"That's the reason I signed again this year.

"Having lost a few teammates is a bit upsetting, but I love playing footy and the team environment.

"There's a lot (of expectations) to live up to, and I would love to go back-to-back and win another comp, but as long as I'm having fun and the team is enjoying it, that's enough reason to keep playing footy.”

In a somewhat unfamiliar role, Hancock played off the interchange bench for the Broncos last year.

The Maroons and Jillaroos representative said she would again be used as an impact forward throughout the 2019 season.

"It will be my job to come off the bench again,” she said.

"As I'm getting a little bit more through my footy career, I like coming off the bench. It allows me to watch that first 15 minutes.

"I do miss starting and the initial contact, but I don't mind the interchange. When I come on I can control things and try to settle my teammates down. I try to steer the ship around with my voice, give some confidence to the younger kids and run the football as hard as I can.”

Round one action of the NRLW between Brisbane and St George Illawarra will be broadcast live on Fox Sports and Kayo from 2pm on Sunday.