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Georgia Hale feels it only fitting that the award she earned while playing for the Kiwi Ferns remains on New Zealand soil, despite the fact that she probably won't be home to see it for at least a year. 

The Golden Boot the 28-year-old claimed this week – which recognises her as the international game's top female player – will take pride of place in the family home in Auckland, even though Hale likely won't return to her nation of birth until the next time Kiwi Ferns next play in New Zealand. 

Immediately after helping New Zealand end a seven-year winless drought against the Jillaroos in late October, Hale headed back to Leeds where her partner, Leeds Rhinos prop Sam Lisone, is based. 

Her return to Yorkshire came after she spent the middle part of 2023 on the Gold Coast playing for the Titans, with only a fleeting trip back to New Zealand in between all that for the Kiwi Ferns' clash against Tonga in Auckland.

'Humbled and honoured': Hale proud of Golden Boot win

With no end in sight to her transient lifestyle, Hale said her Golden Boot, which is her most significant individual award to date, will remain back in Auckland in the safe hands of dad Laurie. 

"It will be a while until I return back home, so I am sure Loz (Laurie) will take good care of it while I'm away," Hale said. 

"I feel truly honoured and humbled to receive this as a proud Kiwi and proud Kiwi Fern.

"I love looking back to (Auckland junior club) the Richmond Roses, who I hold so closely, because that's where my rugby league journey began.

As opportunities presented themselves, although they have been across the ditch and I have chased that, you still represent home so closely.

Georgia Hale

"Moving away, still chasing the same dreams, but doing it in a different manner and a challenging one, that has been enjoyable. 

"On the back of the year I have had, I have been so thankful for the Leeds Rhinos where it started and then an exciting return to the Gold Coast with the Titans.

"Then the icing on the cake with the Kiwi Ferns, breaking a drought and finding success again." 

With the COVID-19 pandemic effectively forcing the Warriors out of the NRLW competition after the 2020 season, like many other female league players from New Zealand Hale had to look further afield for opportunities. 

While she's grateful to have had those experiences, she also hopes to see the Warriors re-admitted to the NRLW in the future and said she'd find it hard to turn down the chance to represent the club again after spending three seasons with them previously. 

"Most girls now that wear the Kiwi Ferns kit, we all have had to move away from home, which probably wasn't our intention and the game back home wouldn't have intended for that either," Hale said. 

"I just hope that it's not the case for the young girls and our next generation.

Georgia Hale is a machine

"If the opportunity to return home [came up] I would love to look at that avenue. 

"It's not on the cards as of yet... but I am an advocate for [the Warriors returning to the NRLW], I have worn the Warriors jersey before, I know how special it is."

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