16 July 2022

New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) held its annual general meeting on Saturday, where women’s rugby league great Honey Hireme-Smiler MNZM was welcomed as an Appointed Director to the NZRL Board.

Hireme-Smiler, a dual international, has been an exceptional flag bearer for New Zealand women’s rugby league.

The former Kiwi Fern’s captain boasts an impressive 18-year professional playing career which includes 32 Tests for the Kiwi Ferns, two World Cup victories, and a place in the NRL women’s team of the decade (2010s).

The Kiwi Fern legend is well steeped in the community game, playing for Hamilton City Tigers and representing Wai-Coa-Bay at the 2019 NZRL National Women’s Tournament. She then led the Kiwi Ferns to World Cup Nines glory before retiring at the end of the 2019 season.

The three-time Kiwi Fern Player of the Year was awarded the inaugural Veronica White Medal for her outstanding contribution to the community through rugby league and was later appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the code.

The Putaruru-born star has previous governance experience as an emerging Director for Waikato Rugby and continues to give back via coaching, mentoring, and her numerous ambassador roles, including as a senior disability sport advisor with the Halberg Foundation.

She was recently selected as one of 16 women’s coaches around the country enrolled in the High-Performance Sport New Zealand’s (HPSNZ) Te Hāpaitanga programme and, in her spare time, works as a dual-code presenter and commentator for Sky Sport.

“Honey is an exceptional addition to the NZRL Board,” says NZRL Chairman Hugh Martyn.

“She is a voice for many who play our game, and she is well respected in the New Zealand sporting community. Her passion for the women’s and disability space and her experience at a high-performance and grassroots level will see her bring valuable insight and direction to the organisation.”

Hireme-Smiler’s election also maintains NZRL’s 40% self-identifying female board composition.

Incumbent Director Grant Stapleton has been reappointed for a further four-year term.

Martyn said, “Grant has been on the NZRL board since 2019 and has been a key member of this team. We are extremely privileged to have him for another four years.”


THE NZRL BOARD IS Hugh Martyn (Chair), Howie Tamati (President), Natasha Tere (Deputy Chair), Justin Leydesdorff, Tawera Nikau, Jeni Pearce, Grant Stapleton and Honey Hireme-Smiler.


New Zealand Rugby League is pleased to announce the appointment of new Board Member, Grant Stapleton. He fills the Independent Board Director position left vacant by Motu Tony, who joined the NZRL senior leadership team as General Manager of High Performance in June of last year.

Stapleton boasts over 30 years of experience as a director, executive leader and entrepreneur bringing a wealth of knowledge in finance and strategy. He has led numerous businesses to success spanning various different industries including Bakers Delight, Hue, Mariposa Restaurant Holdings (holding company of Mexicali Fresh and Burger Wisconsin), Retail New Zealand, Thermal Solutions Holdings, Collective Hospitality, Laser Group Holdings and ATL Group.

Grant is also managing director of specialist consulting company, Cornell Consulting Group, which assists clients in the areas of financial performance, organisational design and strategy.

NZRL Chairman Reon Edwards welcomes yet another valuable addition to the NZRL team which, led by CEO Greg Peters, enters a new era of change and progression as the national body looks to reinvigorate the rugby league landscape in New Zealand.

“Grant’s track record as a director is exemplary. We as a Board are pleased to have his expertise at the table as we look to solidify our strategic plan for the next four years,”

“There are some exciting prospects in the pipeline for rugby league both in New Zealand and internationally, that could be hugely beneficial for the grassroots game and we know our hard-working communities are really looking forward to another action-packed season ahead,” Edwards said.

When asked what drew him to his new position on the NZRL Board, Stapleton said, “Sport and rugby league are inextricably woven into the fabric of NZ. This is a great opportunity to grow our communities and the interactions they have through the sport of rugby league.”

Alongside the new additions to the NZRL Board, CEO Greg Peters’ senior leadership team is now complete with the recently appointed General Manager of Commercial and Communications, Gordon Gibbons and former Kiwi Nigel Vagana, moving into the General Manager of Football and Wellbeing.

Gibbons has been involved in rugby league for several decades having recently been the New Zealand Warriors Corporate Sales Manager following his 10-year stint as Football Operations Manager at Auckland Rugby League. He was also the Kiwis Team Manager for the infamous 2008 World Cup winning team.

New Zealand Rugby League Board: Reon Edwards (Chair), Elizabeth Richards (Vice-Chair), Hugh Martyn, Tawera Nikau, Bill McEntee, Andrew Fraser, Grant Stapleton.

The New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) would like to announce the appointment of the new Independent Board Director, Kiwi #686 Motu Tony.

Replacing John Bishop who retires after ten years of service to the NZRL Board, Motu Tony brings almost 20 years of experience in professional sport to the role.

Tony’s playing career included 13 Tests for the Kiwis between 2001 and 2006 winning the 2005 Tri-Nations, alongside stints with the New Zealand Warriors and Super League’s Hull FC.

Of recent, he has attained board experience with Baseball New Zealand, the New Zealand Rugby Union ‘Navigating Two Worlds’ Advisory Panel, the Rugby Football League Disciplinary Review Panel Committee and Hull FC Super League Limited to name a few. In addition to this, he is currently the Acting Chief Executive Officer at Baseball New Zealand following a successful tenure as the General Manager of Football Operations at Hull FC Super League.

At Hull FC, Tony led their high-performance programme which included the responsibilities of recruiting and retaining both players and staff, as well as the financial management of a live salary cap. Tony left Hull FC in 2017 to return to New Zealand after the club had won consecutive Challenge Clubs (2016 and 2017) and re-established itself as one of the premiere clubs in the Super League.

Reon Edwards, Chairman of the NZRL Board is pleased to have someone of Motu Tony’s high-performance expertise joining his team during this exciting period of change for the NZRL.

“Following the Castle review, it was imperative that we took on board the recommendation to make appointments that inject more high-performance knowledge into our organisation.

“As a proven sports leader, administrator and Director (both Executive and Non-Executive) with almost 20 years of experience in professional sport as both an athlete and administrator, Motu Tony more than fits the bill.

“We anticipate Motu will provide real value as we look to review the draft strategic plan with the help of the newly appointed CEO, Greg Peters,” he said.


Board experience

2018 – Present Baseball New Zealand

2018 – Present New Zealand Rugby Union ‘Navigating Two Worlds’ Advisory Panel

2017 – Rugby Football League Disciplinary Review Panel Committee

2017 – Hull Rugby League Participation Committee

2016 -2017 – City of Hull Rugby League Academy Board of Directors

2014 -2017 – Hull Super League Limited Board of Directors

Other roles

2018 Interim Chief Executive Officer, Baseball New Zealand

2013-2017 General Manager of Football Operations, Hull FC Super League Limited

New Zealand Kiwis Rugby League 2001 – 2006

  • 13 Tests
  • Selection for UK Tours in 2002, 2004 and 2005
  • 2005 Tri-nations Winner, 24-0 vs Australia. First time Kiwis had defeated Australia in a Test series in 50 years
  • 2006 Tri-nations Grand Finalist

Professional Rugby League Player 2001 – 2012

  • Wakefield Wildcats
  • Hull FC Super League Limited
  • Castleford Tigers Super League, Yorkshire, United Kingdom
  • Brisbane Broncos, NRL, Australia
  • New Zealand Warriors, NRL, New Zealand.


After seven years as an appointed director, Jennifer Rolfe is stepping down from the New Zealand Rugby League Board. She will be replaced by experienced director, Australian based Andrew Fraser. Previously Head of Strategy and Investment at the NRL, Fraser is currently a director of the Rugby League World Cup.

Fraser serves as a director on a diverse range of other bodies, including Sunsuper a top ten Australian superannuation fund, where he is Chairman of the Investment Committee. His other current directorships include the Major Projects Advisory Board of the Whitsunday Regional Council and the Hear and Say Centre. He is an independent member of Griffith University’s Finance, Risk and Resources Committee and joined the University Council in November 2017.
Fraser has served as a Commissioner on the board of the Australian Sports Commission, was an elected member of the Queensland Government and served as a Minister in a range of portfolios including Sport, Local Government, Economic Development, Trade and the Treasury.

A graduate of Griffith University, he has degrees in Commerce and Law with First Class Honours and received the University Medal.

Reon Edwards, chairman of the NZRL Board said, ”Jen has been an outstanding contributor to our Board. Her knowledge and passion for communications and marketing has provided support for our commercial team since she started in 2011. We wish her every success.”

Of Fraser’s appointment Edwards said “We are extremely fortunate to be able to fill the vacancy with someone who brings a huge amount of knowledge and passion for the game to the board table.

“In addition to Andrew’s years of involvement through the NRL, he also provides experience in governance, political savvy and an understanding of law and commerce.”

Fraser said, “Rugby League is a force for good – it does so many great things that often go unseen and unheard in communities.

“I am eager to give back to the game and the game in New Zealand is well placed to grow – on the field and off the field.”

Rolfe will complete her duties at the last board meeting of the year on December 6, Fraser’s appointment will take effect on December 7.

New Zealand Rugby League Board: Reon Edwards (Chair), Hugh Martyn (Vice-Chair), Elizabeth Richards, John Bishop, Tawera Nikau, Bill McEntee, Andrew Fraser