Retiring Kiwi Ferns skipper Laura Mariu had her fairy-tale finish and birthday spoiled with tonight's 23-16 Women's World Cup final loss to Australia in Brisbane.
Mariu, who has appeared in all five women's tournament's since 2000, celebrated her 37th birthday today, but had the occasion ruined by the loss at Suncorp Stadium.
The Papakura Sea Eagles veteran was a part of New Zealand's World Cup winning teams in 2000, 2005 and 2008, but was unable to avenge the Kiwi Ferns defeat to Australia at the last tournament in 2013.
"I'm gutted for the girls," said Mariu.
"There are only four of us that have experienced a World Cup win.
"I'm gutted but I don't really show emotion in terms of that - I'll probably go home and cry my little eyes out in my room.
"I'm sad for the team but I'm also really proud of how far they've come on this journey.
"They've done really well.
The Tony Benson-coached side enjoyed the better run of play for much of the game but Australia capitalised on their chances in the second-half to build out to a 22-10 lead.
New Zealand came back with a try to five-eighth Raecene McGregor to give them hope in the last 10 minutes before Australia clinched the result with halfback Caitlin Moran nailing a field goal in the last minute.
"We hung on there, a couple of errors and penalties let us down but it was just one of those games," she said.
"It was a hard-fought battle right to the end and unfortunately we didn't t the result we wanted."
Mariu is encouraged by the NRL's plans to establish a Women's competition and hopes New Zealand rugby league can develop further either by potentially having a Warriors side involved or Kiwi players winning contracts with Australian clubs.
"I haven't really thought about myself but I'm happy that their potentially could be a women's competition in the NRL, she said.
"From this World Cup, the exposure we've gained is going to be setting the pathway for our young people."