Black Ferns’ legend Kendra Cocksedge soaking up time with team as retirement potentially beckons

Black Ferns veteran Kendra Cocksedge, center, takes in the national anthem with Chelsea Bremner, left, and Ruahei Demant before a test against Australia in June.

Andy Jackson / Getty Images

Black Ferns veteran Kendra Cocksedge, center, takes in the national anthem with Chelsea Bremner, left, and Ruahei Demant before a test against Australia in June.

Nearing the end of her long international career, Black Ferns veteran Kendra Cocksedge is savoring every moment with the team so close to her heart.

The most-capped Black Fern in history with 60 tests, Cocksedge, 34, hasn’t put on a timeline on when she’ll finish up internationally. It wouldn’t come as a shock if a fourth Women’s Rugby World Cup on home soil later this year was her final bow di lei in the black jersey.

As Cocksedge puts it: “I always talk about that they’d be no better way than lifting a World Cup at Eden Park [in the final] and finishing on a high. “

The two-time World Cup winner, who debuted for the Black Ferns against Australia in Whanganui in 2007, has done it all internationally.

READ MORE:
* Canterbury edge Waikato in thrilling rematch of Farah Palmer Cup final
* How much do our top sportspeople earn?
* Commonwealth Games medalists and World Cup winners bolster Black Ferns for Australian series

While a home World Cup looms large, kicking off on October 8, the Black Ferns’ immediate focus is the two-test Laurie O’Reilly Cup series against Australia. The first test is at Christchurch’s Orangetheory Stadium on Saturday (7.05pm start) with the sides meeting again in Adelaide the following Saturday.

For Canterbury halfback Cocksedge, Saturday will be extra special.

SKY-SPORT

Canterbury score late try to gain revenge on Waikato in Farah Palmer Cup final rematch

Despite playing 15 years of international rugby, this will be just her second test in Christchurch and first at Orangetheory – the home of Canterbury Rugby.

The Black Ferns played Australia in 2017 at Christchurch’s Rugby Parkwinning 44-17 with Cocksedge scoring a try.

“I always think, even with this test here on Saturday, it could be my last one here in Christchurch in the black jersey, so you do start thinking about those things,” she said.

Black Ferns head coach Wayne Smith talks with Kendra Cocksedge and Hazel Tubic during a training session in Auckland last week.

Hannah Peters / Getty Images

Black Ferns head coach Wayne Smith talks with Kendra Cocksedge and Hazel Tubic during a training session in Auckland last week.

“You’ve got to appreciate the time you get in the jersey and the jersey means a lot to me and I want to continue to wear it – especially because I’m in really good form at the moment and for me and for this team to win a World Cup on home turf, we all need to be playing our best rugby and we need to be world-class. “

It didn’t take long for Cocksedge to cop some chirp from her Black Ferns’ team-mates when the side linked up on Sunday following the latest round of the Farah Palmer Cup.

Cocksedge scored the match-winning try for Canterbury with four minutes left on Saturday as they edged Waikato 29-27 in a rematch of last year’s final.

With 14 members of the Black Ferns’ squad from Canterbury or Waikato there was some good-natured banter, but they had quickly switched back to being team-mates.

Kendra Cocksedge looks to get a pass away in the Black Ferns' win over Australia in June.

Aaron Gillions / Photosport

Kendra Cocksedge looks to get a pass away in the Black Ferns’ win over Australia in June.

The most experienced Black Fern in this squad by some way, Cocksedge loved seeing the new caps immerse themselves in the environment.

“Every time we get new girls come into camp and they get their kit for the first time, I love getting around that and knowing that years ago that was me and that gives me that little drive when I see them get their bag for the first time. “

The Black Ferns’ halfback battle is a fierce one with incumbent Cocksedge facing strong competition from Counties Manukau’s Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu, who started in the last test against the United States and was player of the match. Waikato’s Ariana Bayler is also in the mix and has gained four caps.

“They’re nipping at my ankles at the moment and I love that because it’s putting pressure on me to perform.

Black Ferns halfback Kendra Cocksedge clears the ball against Canada in Auckland in June.

Hannah Peters / Getty Images

Black Ferns halfback Kendra Cocksedge clears the ball against Canada in Auckland in June.

“We work a lot together and for me it’s about if I do decide to finish up over the next few months, it’s about growing someone into that nine role and leaving that jersey in a better place and them coming through and making sure it’s ready for them to take over. “

The Black Ferns beat Australia 23-10 in dreadful weather conditions in Tauranga in June when the sides last met. New Zealand have never lost to Australia in 20 previous contests and Cocksedge said the trans-Tasman clash was one they embraced.

Australia had nothing to lose as underdogs and the chance to knock over New Zealand at home would be powerful motivation for the Wallaroos.

“They’re going to come over here fighting. There’s no better way than beating the Black Ferns at home, so they’ve got an opportunity to try and do that this week and they’ll try and do the same thing in the opening match at the World Cup.

“They’re physical. They carry the ball well, so for us we’ve got to make sure we chop and stop them [on defence] and we focus on what we need to do. “