Long-serving Counties Manukau rep Aieshaleigh Smalley broke into the Kiwi Ferns squad for the
2017 Rugby League World Cup.
A Manukau Rovers junior, Smalley was still a teenager when she first played provincial rugby league
for Counties Manukau and later joined Otahuhu Leopards.
The 26-year-old played three matches for New Zealand at the 2017 World Cup – including a front-
row start in the loss to Australia in the final – after receiving her maiden call-up.
Smalley represented Tonga at the Commonwealth Championship in early-2018 before featuring in
the inaugural NRLW premiership for the Warriors. Her bruising defence was integral to the Warriors’
epic win over the Roosters in the first-ever NRLW fixture, while she averaged 81 metres and 16
tackles in playing all three matches that season.
The dynamic prop was part of the Kiwi Ferns’ line-ups that went down narrowly to the Jillaroos in
the 2018 post-season Test and swamped Fetu Samoa midway through 2019.
Smalley backed up for the second NRLW campaign and was typically industrious in her two
appearances against the Roosters and Dragons. She was subsequently named in New Zealand’s
World Cup Nines and Test squads but was ultimately a non-playing member of the team for both
After featuring in Counties Manukau’s victorious Sky Sports NZRL National Women’s Premiership campaign in 2020, Smalley represented Fetu Samoa in their 28-8 loss to the Kiwi Ferns at Mt Smart Stadium.