Honey Hireme is again the queen bee in rugby league, Aaron Goile reports.
There may be a lack of rugby league structures for women in Waikato but that hasn't stopped Hamilton's Honey Hireme from being named women's player of the year at the New Zealand Rugby League awards.
The 30-year-old was last week recognised with her second title, after also winning it in 2007.
Hireme is a special talent, excelling in both rugby league as well as rugby.
The destructive centre has, in fact, been nicknamed "Honey Bill Williams" by most of her peers, in reference to her sublime offload, fend and numerous other skills across both codes.
Winning the award was great recognition for Hireme's commitment - she travels to Auckland and back four times a week for her sporting endeavours.
"All those sacrifices that myself and my partner and my family have had to make all the years that I've been playing, it was good to receive an award," she said. "If anything, I'd dedicate it to them and for everyone who's supported me over the years."
Outside of her sport, Hireme works as a programme co-ordinator for Life Unlimited, teaching mental health self development programmes and people with disabilities.
Because of limited resources in Waikato, she trains and plays in Auckland - rugby on Saturdays and league on Sundays.
In rugby, she plays at centre for the Waikato University side which competes in the Auckland competition.
Hireme is also in the Waikato women's team, which returned to the national competition this year, and she has also been in the New Zealand sevens squad, though her league commitments have made it hard for her to progress.
She missed recent selection for the Dubai round of the world series and admits she is not striving towards the 2016 Olympics where sevens will make its debut.
In terms of league, though, Hireme is in her ninth year with the Kiwi Ferns and has her eyes on another world cup title in England next June.
"I said at the last world cup I'd retire but I'm sticking around and I'm now one of the senior players," she said.
This year the national side hasn't had any test matches, instead running training camps in preparation for the tournament.
New Zealand have won all three previous world cups, with Hireme involved in the previous two, but she said the likes of England, Australia and Samoa would always give New Zealand a run for their money.
After starting in the sport as a five-year old running around with the boys, Hireme played in women's sides when she got to high school.
She plays her club footy for Papakura, who won the Auckland Rugby League women's competition.
"The sport is dominated in Auckland but there's so much talent down in the Waikato-Bay of Plenty region to lift the sport up as well," Hireme said. "Rugby is starting to come back up now so, hopefully, league follows suit.
"We had quite a strong Waikato-Bay of Plenty competition back when I was just out of high school."
Hireme represented Counties-Manukau in the six-team national competition and that side also went on to be victorious this year.
She is unsure how long she will continue to play, preferring instead to focus on getting through another world cup.
Hireme is clear about one thing - she's keen to give back to the sport in the future.
"I'd like to get into coaching. I'm happy to start at kids' level and start getting the boys into it and maybe even our girl."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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