22 February 2021
The most influential Māori sportspeople of the past 30 years have been crowned and four rugby league greats have been honoured in one of the most prestigious sporting lists.
Dubbed The Little General during his standout career with the Warriors and the Kiwis, Jones was, according to broadcaster Dale Husband, “so popular he could have been Prime Minister”. Played 48 tests and 238 NRL games for the Warriors before turning to coaching. Ex-Warriors and Kiwis teammate Wairangi Koopu said Jones transformed both teams. “The small rarea bird flies up high in the kahikatea tree. That’s how you’d sum up Stacey Jones.”
The star of the Kiwis’ only Rugby League World Cup winning team in 2008, Benji Marshall is about to enter his 19th NRL season, having played over 300 first grade games. Won a NRL title with Wests Tigers in 2005 when he produced an amazing flick pass in the grand final. Golden Boot winner in 2010 as international player of the year. “He could have played State of Origin, he definitely could have played for Australia, but he chose the black jersey over a Kangaroos jumper,” said ex-Kiwi Tony Kemp. “To me, that says everything. The guy’s an absolute legend.”
One of the most respected players in NZ Rugby League history and across the entire NRL scene, Wiki starred during 12 seasons with the Canberra Raiders, winning the 1994 premiership as a centre. Ended his 311-game career with three seasons as a Warriors prop. The most capped Kiwi with 55 tests and a NRL Hall of Famer. Former Kiwis captain Hugh McGahan said of Wiki: “He’s got conviction, he’s got resilience, he’s got power. He never knew the meaning of the word, ‘giving up’.’’
Her 32 Test tenure in the Kiwi Ferns jersey includes four World Cups spanning 18 seasons. Putararu-born Hireme-Smiler was named World Cup MVP in 2013 and also appeared for the Black Ferns a year later at the 2014 Rugby World Cup, as well as starring in the Black Ferns sevens team. Former Warriors and Kiwis forward Wairangi Koopu claims Hireme’s ease at switching between the two codes earned her the nickname of “Honey Bill Williams”. She was 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, cementing her standing as one of women’s rugby league’s all-time greats.
1. Lisa Carrington – Te Aitanga-A-Māhaki/Ngāti Porou (Canoeing)2. Michael Campbell – Ngāti Ruanui/Ngāi Rauru (Golf)3. Wynton Rufer – Ngāti Porou (Football)4. Jason Wynyard – Ngāti Maniapoto/Ngāpuhi (Wood Chopping)5. Pero Cameron – Ngāpuhi (Basketball)6. Zinzan Brooke – Ngāpuhi (Rugby)7. Stacey Jones – Ngāti Maniapoto/Ngāpuhi (Rugby League)8. Farah Palmer – Tainui/Ngāti Maniapoto (Rugby)9. Benji Marshall – Ngāi Tuhoe (Rugby League)10. Dame Noeline Taurua – Ngāpuhi (Netball)11. Aaron Smith – Ngāti Kahungunu (Rugby)12. Portia Woodman – Ngāpuhi (Rugby)13. Ruben Wiki – Ngāpuhi (Rugby League)14. Trent Boult – Ngāi Tahu/Ngāti Porou/Ngāi Te Rangi (Cricket)15. Eric Rush – Ngāpuhi (Rugby)16. Winston Reid – Tainui/Te Arawa (Football)17. Peter Martin – Te Arawa (Paralympics Athletics)18. Leilani Joyce – Ngāti Hine/Ngāi Te Rangi/Tainui (Squash)19. Suzie Bates – Ngāi Tahu (Cricket/Basketball)20. Honey Hireme-Smiler – Ngāti Raukawa/Ngāi Haua/Waikato-Tainui (Rugby League/Rugby)21. Nathan Nukunuku – Ngāti Porou (Softball)22. Temepara Bailey – Ngāpuhi (Netball)23. Shane Bond – Ngāi Tahu (Cricket)24. Sarah Hirini – Ngāti Kahungunu (Rugby)25. Joelle King – Ngāti Porou (Squash)26. Raelene Castle – Ngāpuhi (Sports Administrator)27. Kayla Whitelock – Rangitāne (Hockey)28. Cathy Millen – Ngāi Tuhoe (Power Lifting)29. Cameron Leslie – Ngāpuhi (Paralympics Swimming/Wheelchair Rugby)30. Shannon McIlroy – Ngāti Porou (Lawn Bowls)
Due to the COVID-19 international pandemic, New Zealand Rugby League regrets to inform that the Oceania Cup International Test matches scheduled for June between the Kiwis and Tonga Invitational XIII and the Kiwi Ferns and Fetu Samoa have been postponed.
We appreciate this is an unprecedented step being taken for international rugby league; however, due to the current travel restrictions, self-isolation requirements, and restrictions on mass gatherings, the decision has been made to cancel.
NZRL is in discussions with the APRLC (Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation) regarding potential postponement options and will continue to liaise with industry bodies, government agencies and playing groups to determine the best course of action going forward.
Greg Peters, NZRL CEO said these are unprecedented measures that had to be taken.
“With the recent announcement on mass gatherings and the unpredictability of this pandemic, the safety and well-being of our players, staff and supporters remain a priority. We are also very conscious of the current demand on some of our players due to the travel restrictions in place which we will be taking into full consideration going forward.
“Even if restrictions were to be lifted before the event date, it still is not feasible to undertake the work required now to deliver matches in June amid the current uncertainty. The best-case scenario is our calendar is postponed, depending on what the NRL season looks like the back end of the year, but of course, we cannot guarantee anything at this stage.
“We are in unfamiliar and unknown territory; collectively, we are all feeling the widespread impact of this pandemic but rest assured, we will be exploring every possible option.”
NZRL is pleased to announce that Australian based apparel brand, BLK, will be its official apparel provider from 1 January 2020 through to 31 December 2023.
“We are no stranger to the quality BLK provide as we have partnered with this world-renowned clothing brand in the past,” says NZRL CEO, Greg Peters.
“We are excited to be working with BLK over the next couple of years as we head into busy periods of growth for the organisation on and off the field, as well as the soon approaching 2021 World Cup.” Peters concludes.
“Three years ago BLK made a very clear brand decision to only partner with teams that create global excitement, treat all athletes equally regardless of gender and believe in the power of sport not just the business of sport,” says BLK CEO, Tyron Brant.
“It is wonderful to have the Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns back in BLK; we are excited to bring the full power of our global reach, innovation and creativity to partner with New Zealand Rugby League and grow both brands globally.”
New Zealand Kiwis playmaker Shaun Johnson and Kiwi Ferns centre Honey Hireme – Smiler have today been confirmed to captain the national teams in the inaugural World Cup Nines at Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium on Friday and Saturday.
Johnson (29) and Hireme (38) aren’t only the most seasoned international players in each of the squads but they can also draw on significant experience in the nines game.
Johnson appeared in each of the four NRL Nines tournaments at Eden Park in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, captaining the Vodafone Warriors in the first three before the legendary Ruben Wiki led the side in 2017.
Hireme also featured on the same stage twice in 2016 and 2017 for the Kiwi Ferns against the Jillaroos.
The first appearances for the pair were in central Sydney today when the Kiwis and the Kiwi Ferns gathered with every squad at the Botanical Gardens overlooking the harbour.
The full squads from the 16 competing countries – 12 men and four women – were captured in a number of photos including a spectacular one of all teams lined up together.
Johnson leads a 16-man team which features eight players yet to play for the Kiwis. The squad assembled in Sydney on Monday, having its first field session at Leichhardt Oval yesterday.
The Kiwi Ferns also trained for the first time yesterday. One change has been made to the side with Warriors hooker Kanyon Paul coming into the Kiwi Ferns for the first time as a late replacement for unavailable Brisbane dummy half Lavinia Gould.
The Kiwi Ferns open their campaign against the Jillaroos on Friday night with two more pool games against England and Papua New Guinea on Saturday night. The top two teams go into the final.
The Kiwis meet the Kangaroos on Friday night and have two more pool games against Papua New Guinea and the United States on Saturday. The top two teams from the group go into the semi-finals involving the winners of the other two pools. England is grouped with Wales, France and Lebanon in one pool while Tonga Invitational leads the remaining pool alongside Toa Samoa, Fiji Bati and Cook Islands.