Honey Hireme’s standing among women’s rugby league’s all-time greats was assured many years
ago. Her tenure in the Kiwi Ferns jersey – which includes four World Cups – spans 18 seasons, while
she was recently named in NRL.com’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.
Born in Putaruru, Waikato, Hireme first represented New Zealand against New Zealand Māori in a
non-Test match in 2002. The 22-year-old scored 10 tries at the following year’s World Cup, including
a double in the 58-0 defeat of New Zealand Māori in the final, and was named in the Team of the
Kiwi Ferns fixtures were scarce in the ensuing years, but the blockbusting centre was one of several
players to back up for their successful World Cup title defence in 2008.
Hireme, who by now was representing Counties-Manukau, captained the Kiwi Ferns at the 2013
World Cup, where they relinquished their crown to Australia via a 22-12 loss in the final. Despite the
defeat, Hireme was named Player of the Tournament.
A New Zealand Rugby Sevens rep, Hireme made her rugby union Test debut for the Black Ferns at
the 2014 World Cup. Three months later she co-captained the Kiwi Ferns to victory over the Jillaroos
After turning out for the Kiwi Ferns at the 2017 NRL Auckland Nines, Hireme ended a three-year
absence from the Test rugby league arena at that year’s World Cup. The Papakura Sisters star played
four matches on the wing and was the tournament’s top try-scorer with 13 – more than double her
closest rival. Hireme scored six tries in the pool-stage thrashing of Cook Islands, a hat-trick in the
semi-final defeat of England and a brilliant first-half double in the gallant loss to Australia in the final.
Hireme was snapped up by St George Illawarra for the inaugural NRLW premiership, playing all three
of the Dragons’ games and averaging 129 metres. She was outstanding in New Zealand’s subsequent
Test loss to Australia in Auckland, making three line-breaks and a game-high 214 metres in the 26-24
thriller as she showcased her trademark speed, power and fend.
Hireme was named 2018 Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year, following on from NZRL Women’s Player of
the Year nods she received in 2007 and 2012.
Having returned to the Waikato – playing for Hamilton City Tigers and representing Wai-Coa-Bay at
the NZRL National Women’s Tournament – Hireme was named Kiwi Ferns captain for the mid-2019
Test against Fetu Samoa. She scored two tries and again ran for over 200 metres in the 46-8 win.
Hireme signed with the Warriors but sat out the 2019 NRLW campaign to be with her terminally ill
mother, Caryn, who passed away on September 25. Just weeks later she returned to the field to lead
the Kiwi Ferns to World Cup Nines glory; Hireme scored four tries and was named in the Team of the
The inspirational 38-year-old was a shining light in the Kiwi Ferns’ 28-8 Test loss to the Jillaroos in
Wollongong, scoring their only try of the second half and running for a team-high 127 metres.