Kiwi Ferns great Honey Hireme-Smiler retires after 18-year rugby league career

Veteran Kiwi Fern Honey Hireme-Smiler has announced Saturday’s Test against Fetu Samoa was her last, opting to hang up her boots after a stellar 18-year career.

Former New Zealand captain Honey Hireme fends off a would-be Australian defender. Source: Photosport

Hireme-Smiler’s 32-Test tenure in the Kiwi Ferns jersey included four World Cups with her play earning her a place in the NRL’s Women’s Rugby League Team of the Decade (2010s) and appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the game.

The 39-year-old was also awarded NZ Rugby League’s women’s player of the year twice in 2007 and 2012 along with a Kiwi Ferns player of the year award in 2018.

Hireme-Smiler was also a revered player in rugby union, playing for both the Black Ferns and Black Ferns Sevens in World Cups.

However, the centre decided to call time as a rugby league player.

“[I’m] leaving the jersey in a better place,” Hireme-Smiler said.

“Deciding to retire has been a really hard decision, my heart and my mind would play footy till I’m 50, but my body tells me my time is done.

“I love my team, my sport and I love to compete, I have given all I can as a player and have always aimed to give nothing less than my absolute best.”

Hireme-Smiler said very few knew Saturday’s 28-8 win over Samoa, which featured nine debutants.

“Every teammate, every coach, every manager, trainer, medical staff, support person, mentor, fan, friend and most of all my loving whānau, Thank you for being a part of this journey, for your guidance, support and love I am truly grateful to you all.
“Hanging up the boots with love: Hunz, Honey-Bill, Aunty, Whaea, Nan, Honey Hireme-Smiler.”