Veteran Kiwi Fern and trailblazer Honey Hireme-Smiler has announced yesterday's international against Fetu Samoa was her last in the Kiwi Ferns jersey.
Hireme-Smiler has called time on her career which spanned 32 tests, four World Cups and 18 seasons.
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.
The Kiwi Ferns veteran helped lead the Ferns to a 28-8 victory over Fetu Samoa on Saturday. Unbeknown to most, it was her last test for the Kiwi Ferns as she made the difficult decision to call time on her career.
"Leaving the jersey in a better place," Hireme-Smiler said.
"Deciding to retire has been a really hard decision, my heart and my mind would play footy till I'm 50, but my body tells me my time is done. I love my team, my sport and I love to compete, I have given all I can as a player and have always aimed to give nothing less than my absolute best.
"Although I may not be out on the field, making an impact, I will continue to serve the game off the field for many years to come. Every teammate, every coach, every manager, trainer, medical staff, support person, mentor, fan, friend and most of all my loving whānau, Thank you for being a part of this journey, for your guidance, support and love I am truly grateful to you all."
Born in Putaruru, Waikato, Hireme-Smiler first represented New Zealand against the New Zealand Māori in a non-test match in 2002. As a 22-year-old she scored ten tries at the following year's World Cup, including a double in the 58-0 defeat of New Zealand Māori in the final, and was named in the Team of the Tournament.
Kiwi Ferns fixtures were scarce in the ensuing years, but the blockbusting centre was one of several players to back up for their successful World Cup title defence in 2008.
Hireme-Smiler then captained the Kiwi Ferns at the 2013 World Cup, where they relinquished their crown to Australia via a 22-12 loss in the final. Despite the defeat, she was named Player of the Tournament.
After turning out for the Kiwi Ferns at the 2017 NRL Auckland Nines, Hireme-Smiler ended a three-year absence from the Test rugby league arena at that year's World Cup. The Papakura Sisters star played four matches on the wing and was the tournament's top try-scorer with 13 – more than double her closest rival. Hireme-Smiler scored six tries in the pool-stage thrashing of the Cook Islands, a hat-trick in the semifinal defeat of England and a first-half double in the loss to Australia in the final.
Hireme-Smiler was named 2018 Kiwi Ferns Player of the Year, following NZRL Women's Player of the Year nods she received in 2007 and 2012.
"On behalf of everyone in our rugby league communities we would like to thank Honey for her outstanding service to the game and for all she's achieved," NZRL CEO Greg Peters said.
"She's paved the way for countless women to get involved and succeed in rugby league, and she will continue to serve as an invaluable role model both on and off the field for years to come."