League

Honey in Warriors’ thoughts ahead of historic match

The Warriors women will play an historic first NRLW match at home, at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday, without star recruit Honey Hireme.

The door will be left firmly open at the Warriors for star recruit Honey Hireme as she continues her vigil at her terminally ill mother’s bedside.

Hireme tweeted a picture of herself training in what appears to be a carpark early Wednesday morning, with the message: “It’s not my time right now cause I’m exactly where I need to be and where I want to be BUT when it is my time I will be ready to go and will continue to prepare & persist. #preparation #persistence #patience @NZWarriors @WRugbyLeague”

Hireme missed the team’s opening round victory over the Roosters in Melbourne last weekend, and is unlikely to feature in the club’s first ever home match against the St George Illawarra Dragons at Mt Smart on Sunday.  Hireme played for the Dragons in the inaugural NRLW last season. 

The triple-code international has been taking care of her mum, Caryn, at home in Hamilton for the past two months, after she was diagnosed with a a rare and aggressive stomach cancer. 

It’s meant Hireme has put on hold all of her careers – playing for the Warriors, working as a sports commentator for Sky and as the disability sport advisor across the Waikato for the Halberg Foundation.

But she's continued to train, sometimes in the stairwell of Waikato Hospital, and in carparks. 

Warriors captain Georgia Hale confirmed that Hireme would be welcomed backed to the team with open arms if circumstances permit – and that the cross-code legend will be firmly in the players’ thoughts as they take the field on Sunday.

“I admire Honey and the way she has gone about this whole challenging situation,” Hale says.

“She has continued to keep in touch with us and she sends messages through. She’s being doing as much work as she can - that just shows the kind of person she is. But family comes first and we completely support her and send all of our love down to her, because she is going through a really tough time.

“We are definitely not going to be closing any doors. Hons is still very much a part of this team and this squad and if she could come back that would be very exciting for our team. With all of her experience, if she was to slot back in I’m sure that would be a pretty easy task for her.

“But who knows at this stage? If things do hope to look better for Honey then it would be great to have her back.”

Having posted a surprise victory over the highly-fancied Roosters, the Warriors can go a long way to booking a place in the grand final of the four-team competition with a victory over the Dragons.

“We enjoyed that winning feeling [in Melbourne] but we know we have another big challenge this weekend that we are looking forward to,” Hale says.

“There was definitely an underdog feeling and we love that, going out there and really proving a point and showing how talented our girls are and how much work we’ve put in.”

With all three of last season's matches taking place in Australia, finally playing on Mt Smart in a Warriors jersey in an official NRL match will be especially cool for Hale, a four-sport national representative who works for the club as a community coordinator.

“Last year one thing we noticed was just how draining the travel side of it was – what our boys go through week-in, week-out. So we’re very grateful to have a home game, and the opportunity to play at Mt Smart in front of friends and family,” she says.

With the Dragons having dropped their opening match to defending champions Brisbane, the Warriors can expect to face a desperate opponent.

“I know we have only had one game but the Dragons’ season is already on the line,” Hale said. “For us, it is a chance to own this game and make our route to the end of the competition a little bit easier. Every game has a finals footy mindset, which is exciting.

“Our prep needs to be on this week and we need to turn up on Sunday ready and raring to go.”

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