Richard Becht & Photosport.nz
The Warriors have pulled off a huge coup by signing New Zealand sporting superstar, Honey Hireme to headline their 22-strong squad for the second WNRL Premiership starting September.
The double rugby league-rugby union international and current Kiwi Ferns captain has been secured after appearing for the St George Illawarra Dragons in the inaugural WNRL last season.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to have Honey in our squad this year,” said Warriors head coach Luisa Avaiki.
“She’s a great athlete and an outstanding performer in all her sports.
“Honey is a fantastic example with the way she goes about her career, still maintaining the highest standards even after all the years she has been competing at the highest level.”
The 38-year-old Putaruru-born Hireme was again in superb form leading the Kiwi Ferns to a 46-8 win over Fetu Samoa at Mount Smart Stadium on June 22. She scored two tries and made 214 metres from 19 runs.
A disability sport adviser in Hamilton, Hireme is the standout signing in the Warriors’ 2019 squad. One of 11 new faces signed, she’s also one of 16 players who were in last month’s Kiwi Ferns and Fetu Samoa Test squads.
Among the other newcomers are former Fiji rugby union sevens stars Roela Radiniyavuni and Timaima Ravisa who clinched contracts after originally being scouted in Fiji. They’ve both being playing in the Auckland club competition this season.
Another new signing is Canterbury’s Charntay Poko, who made her Test debut in the halves against Samoa, while experienced former Kiwi Ferns winger Atawhai Tupaea makes a return to top-level football after giving birth to her second child.
Mosgiel-born Jules Newman, a 30-year-old cultural strategist, has been signed after she switched to rugby league from rugby union only three months ago. She immediately impressed in the code earning selection in the Kiwi Ferns’ 19-strong Test squad to face Samoa.
Apart from Hireme and Newman, other occupations listed by the squad members include mother, police, fitness co-ordinator, teacher aide, youth justice, student liaison officer, student, community co-ordinator, customer support and freight logistics.
Avaiki, who has Kiwi Ferns head coach Justin Morgan as assistant coach this season, said the squad would assemble in early August to train ahead of the WNRL starting on September 13-14.
She said the players’ focus had been on local club football. A big contingent of the signed players will be involved in the Auckland grand final between the Richmond Roses and Papakura Sisters at Mount Smart Stadium No 2 on Sunday (2.30pm kick-off).
Next on the agenda is the New Zealand Rugby League’s national women’s tournament at Bruce Pulman Park in Papakura from July 26-28.
BILLY JEAN ALE (Akarana, Mount Albert Lions)
MADISON BARTLETT (Akarana, Richmond Roses)
GEORGIA HALE (Akarana, Richmond Roses)
HONEY HIREME (Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions, Hamilton City Tigers)
AMBER KANI (Counties Manukau, Manurewa Marlins)
ONJEURLINA LEIATAUA (Counties Manukau, Otahuhu Leopards)
HILDA MARIU (Counties Manukau, Papakura Sisters)
VA’ANESSA MOLIA-FRASER (Akarana, Richmond Roses)
JULES NEWMAN (Akarana, Mount Albert Lions)
APII NICHOLLS (Counties Manukau, Papakura Sisters)
TANIKA-JAZZ NOBLE-BELL (Akarana, Mount Albert)
ANNETTA-CLAUDIA NUUAUSALA (Akarana, Richmond Roses)
KANYON PAUL (Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions, Hamilton City Tigers)
CHARNTAY POKO (Akarana, Richmond Roses)
ROELA RADINIYAVUNI (Richmond Roses)
TIMAIMA RAVISA (Richmond Roses)
KRYSTAL ROTA (Counties Manukau, Papakura Sisters)
TASIA SEUMANUFAGAI (Victoria, Combined Affiliated States)
AIESHALEIGH SMALLEY (Counties Manukau, Otahuhu Leopards)
CRYSTAL TAMARUA (Akarana, Richmond Roses)
ATAWHAI TUPAEA (Counties Manukau, Papakura Sisters)
KATHLEEN WHARTON KEREMETE (Counties Manukau, Papakura Sisters)