She doesn’t have the same offensive talent as Ruby Tui, or the same aura as Portia Woodman. But Kendra Cocksedge perhaps best embodies the face of the New Zealand selection. The most capped player in the history of the Black Ferns (66 caps), the scrum half began her international career at another time, in 2007. She was only 19 years old.
Today, Cocksedge is one of the patrons of a New Zealand group on a mission. For her latest adventure, since she decided to hang up her crampons at the end of the competition, the Kiwi general intends to lead her troops to historic success at home. Of the five world crowns already obtained by New Zealand, Cocksedge has worn two, in 2010 and 2017.
A key role in the New Zealand system
“She is a great player with a huge career, blows Pauline Bourdon, who will face her on Saturday in the semi-final at Eden Park. She’s an inspiring girl, who has a very good vision of the game and who drives her team hard. In New Zealand, it made an impression. I hope for us that his career will end on Saturday (laughs). »
If Cocksedge is not the most impressive player offensively, she plays a key role in the New Zealand system thanks to her very fast ball ejection which allows three-quarters to have a time advantage over the defenses, undermined and tightened by the front package in the axis. “It’s their master to playabounds Alexandra Chambon, substitute scrum-half for Les Bleues. She animates well and puts a lot of speed. It is against this kind of vis-à-vis that we want to play. »
Kendra Cocksedge after New Zealand’s big victory against Wales in the quarter-finals (55-3). (D. Rowland/Reuters)
Best player of the year in 2015
Named player of the year in 2015, Cocksedge (34) has not always had this apparent ease in governing the game of her teams. Confined for many years to the status of substitute in the selection, she has always heard criticism come back to her size (1.57 m) and doubts rain down on her ability to raise her level physically.
“I really wanted to prove people wrong”
“I really wanted to prove people wrong and that made me work harder to be the best player I could be.she explained to New Zealand Herald. I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me from playing the game I love. But I also had to silence that voice in my head and tell myself not to worry about what other people think. »
At the Rugby Museum next to Aaron Smith
This determination brought him to the top, and today, no one dares to question his work. In Auckland, his face is displayed in large at the New Zealand Rugby Museum, next to those of the All Blacks Aaron Smith or Sam Whitelock. Her charisma and reading of the game even prompted coach Wayne Smith to think that she would become a coach after her playing career.
Before thinking about that, Cocksedge first wants to finish the story of his first life. A few months ago, she expressed her doubts about the ability of the Black Ferns to bounce back after the disastrous tour in November last year, punctuated by four heavy defeats against England (43-12, 56-15) and France (38-13, 29-7). Since then, the Black Ferns have won their last nine games, and have one of the most terrifying attacks in the World Cup (209 points and 35 tries in four games).
“In January, I was really worried about this team, recognizes Cocksedge. At the meeting just before the start of the World Cup, we could see how far we have come since. I am often asked if we will succeed in bridging the gap with England and France. And I believe 100% that we will. » Number 9 and her teammates will have the opportunity to prove it on Saturday against Les Bleues at Eden Park.