Rugby league keeps 72-year-old Simon Hone young - and he's not hanging up his boots any time soon video

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Stuff.co.nz

Simon Hone plays presidents' grade rugby league at 72-years-old.

Sprightly septuagenarian Simon Hone started his rugby league career in 1952 – and is still making and taking tackles 65 years later.

The 72-year-old from Christchurch has simply refused to give up playing the game he loves.

Rugby league is often dubbed the toughest sport in the world, but Hone doesn't duck the big hits. "The harder they hit me, the more enjoyment I get out of it."

Age is no barrier for Simon Hone, who continues to play rugby league 65 years after his first game in the early 1950s.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

Age is no barrier for Simon Hone, who continues to play rugby league 65 years after his first game in the early 1950s.

Now playing for Addington in Canterbury's Presidents Cup competition, for players aged 35 and over, Hone developed a passion for rugby league deep in his childhood years.

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"I started playing for Marist up in Auckland when I was seven years old. My old man used to say 'if you don't score a try I'll give you a good hiding'."

Simon Hone, 72, on the charge for the Addington Magpies against Marist Western Suburbs.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

Simon Hone, 72, on the charge for the Addington Magpies against Marist Western Suburbs.

Hone's father's words motivated him.

"After he told me that, three guys tried tackling me and I carried all three of them over the try line." 

When asked how he was able to do that, he quipped: "If you knew my old man, you would be scared of him too."

"The harder they hit me, the more enjoyment I get out of it,'' says Simon Hone.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

"The harder they hit me, the more enjoyment I get out of it,'' says Simon Hone.

Some of his Presidents Cup teammates and opponents may be young enough to be Hone's sons, but the stalwart said age was irrelevant on the field.

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"I treat them the same. You feel the same as them and the same age."

Before joining the Addington Magpies, Hone played for Woolston, and represented the Hornby Panthers for about 20 years.

His reason for staying in the game is simple: "I just enjoy going out and playing, and that's about it."

Hone's coach, Brian Mutu, who has been with the Addington club for 51 years, said the veteran was a valuable part of the team and the club.

"We picked him up from one of the other teams that didn't really see him as any value.

Young or old, Simon Hone treats his teammates just the same.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

Young or old, Simon Hone treats his teammates just the same.

"In this grade it's more about playing the game and being a part of the Presidents more than the actual winning, so Simon is great in that respect."

Rugby league clearly ran in the Hone whanau. He said his brother, Richard Hone, represented New Zealand at age grade level in the 1960s.

Despite being 72, Simon Hone has no signs of injuries and loves the physical side of the game more than anything.

Regular Rapaki Track walks keep Simon Hone fit for rugby league.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

Regular Rapaki Track walks keep Simon Hone fit for rugby league.

While many 72-year-olds are happily retired at home, Hone relishes his job at Independent Line Services, where he works as a builder-labourer. 

"I just enjoy working, it keeps me happy. If you're doing nothing you're just miserable."

Hone also walks up Rapaki Track at least three times a week.

"I enjoy my days going up there and a nice long walk.

"It's good because it brings me back to my younger days."

Hone has no plans to give up playing rugby league any time soon.

"To be honest, I've never thought about giving it up.

"I like to take things day by day but during the week I always look forward to playing league on Saturday."

 - Stuff

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