‘Big signing’: NRLW legend joins Dragons

NRLW Semi Final - Dragons v Titans
NRLW legend Steph Hancock will finish her career at the Dragons after signing on as an injury replacement for the upcoming season. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

One of rugby league’s greatest servants if off to the Dragons, with veteran Steph Hancock joining the Dragons after the club confirmed powerhouse forward Tara McGrath-West would miss the 2024 NRLW season with a sternum injury.

Hancock, 42, has won two World Cup titles, represented Queensland 16 times and played a record 33 NRLW games, including a stint with St George Illawarra in 2020.

Her arrival is just what the young Dragons side needs, with coach Jamie Soward grateful to sign someone with more than two decades of experience given he’ll be without one of his best forwards this year.

Jamie Soward moved swiftly to replace one of his most important players. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Jamie Soward moved swiftly to replace one of his most important players. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

“Tara has been an instrumental piece around our club and does so many great things, so she’s going to be a huge loss,” Soward said.

“We were really lucky that Steph – one of the greatest front rowers to ever play the game – fell into our lap and it’s a really big signing for our club; not only because of her talents on the field but the way that she carries herself off it.

“She’s an upstanding person in what she does away from footy as well … we’re really looking forward to having Steph back and seeing what she can do on the field and off it helping to nurture our elite, young talent.”

Hancock has spent the past three seasons at the Titans, with the try-scoring machine a part of the side that went down to Newcastle in last year’s thrilling grand final.

This will be the first time that she’s been able to focus solely on footy during an NRLW campaign, with the veteran indicating 2024 will likely mark the end of her glittering career.

2018 NRL Women's Premiership Grand Final - Roosters v Broncos
Steph Hancock (left) was part of Brisbane’s inaugural NRLW premiership side. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

“I am excited to be playing under Sowie and alongside a new bunch of young talented footballers,” she said.

“I’m extremely happy to be in the same team as Teagan ‘Flash’ Berry that’s for sure … I’ve been around a while.

“The club has given me an opportunity that I honestly didn’t expect. To repay them, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help the playing squad on and off the field and hopefully inspire the next generation to want to play rugby league at the Dragons.

“It’s my first year of not working shift work full-time during a season, so solely concentrating just on footy is definitely one aspect I’m excited about.

“I’m grateful to the Queensland Police Service for giving me time off to join the Dragons and I’m thankful to the club and Sowie for giving me the opportunity to go around in the NRLW one last time.”