How chats with fellow NZ rugby greats helped Cocksedge retire

Source: 1News

With an immense weight off her shoulders, a grinning Kendra Cocksedge has revealed chats with some fellow New Zealand rugby greats helped her decide now was the right time to signal her swansong.

Sitting down with 1News at essentially her second home at Christchurch's Rugby Park on Friday afternoon, the Black Ferns and Canterbury halfback was all smiles as she chatted about her impending retirement after the upcoming World Cup.

"I knew it was right," Cocksedge said of her decision.

"I've been thinking about it for about a year now but I had to make sure I was making the right decision."

While the final decision was hers alone, helping her reach it were a couple of conversations with others who have similarly devoted much of their lives to the oval ball - All Blacks Sevens star DJ Forbes and All Blacks legend Dan Carter.

Despite the two chats being years apart, the advice from the pair was resoundingly similar and helped Cocksedge clear her head.

"I had a chat a while back with DJ because 2017 post-World Cup I thought about retiring then because it had been so full on for so many years," she recalled.

"But I said, 'how did you know?' and he said, 'trust me, you'll know, you'll wake up and you'll know'. And that's all he said."

Following the chat, Cocksedge said she was telling herself she was ready to retire then but she was glad she didn't as she has gone on to play some of her best rugby since - a statement backed up in 2018 when she became the first Black Fern to be awarded the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Trophy as the New Zealand Rugby Player of the Year.

"Being named the best rugby player in New Zealand over All Blacks was huge but it wasn't about me winning that, it was about getting it to inspire women and empowering the next generation," she said.

"I was stoked to win it but to me it was more than that; winning it for young girls and the amount of messages I got post that from mums, dads, aunties, uncles about young girls and boys, inspiring them and knowing it can be done - it's why I say that one, it's bigger than the award and I never thought it would happen."

READ MORE: Black Ferns great Kendra Cocksedge to retire from rugby

But as questions started to mount about a potential retirement in the last year, Cocksedge again sought advice from those who have gone through it already.

She linked up with Carter, who has joined the Black Ferns at trainings this year for kicking coaching following Wayne Smith's rapid recruitment to the side.

"I talked to DC around retirement and he said, 'you'll know and you don't want to be clinging on, you want to enjoy your last year and soak it up'," she said.

"And it pushed me to doing it now."

'When I posted it, I felt relieved'

"Now" came on Friday morning in an emotional social media post, featuring a picture of a young Kendra grinning with a trophy in hand and Mt Taranaki looming in the background among other, more recent photos of her stellar career.

In the post she reflected on the "childhood dream" she was fortunate enough to live out and her determination to end it on a high for both Canterbury and the Black Ferns.

"It's been a rollercoaster of emotions but this morning when I posted it, I felt relieved," she said smiling.

"I felt 10kgs lighter and feel so good now it's out there. My interviews in the last six months, everyone's been asking me so it's just nice to have it out there and now I can fully focus on the rugby and just enjoy it for the next few months."

For her beloved province, Cocksedge has a chance to reach exactly 100 caps if they reach next week's final of the Farah Palmer Cup as she enters this weekend's semi against Wellington on 98. Two more wins would also be a fifth Premiership for her.

Kendra Cocksedge celebrates after winning the Farah Palmer Cup in 2019.

Then she has a chance to do something no other player - man or woman - has done in the 15s game in winning a third World Cup, having been part of the winning squads in 2010 and 2017.

With her mind made up, those accolades are now driving her forward.

"I told people I wanted to [announce my retirement] before the World Cup," she said.

"I wanted to let it out so I could put all my energy into the squad and World Cup and finishing the Farah Palmer Cup on a high."

It leaves friends, family and fans just a few more months to watch Cocksedge's magic from the base of the ruck but after that will be something new - and the chance to become the one passing on the advice instead of receiving it.