Black Fern’s Chicago shock

The Press - - Sport - Olivia Cald­well

It took Black Ferns half­back Ken­dra Cocksedge 11 years in the black jersey to get there, but yes­ter­day she felt like a su­per­star in Chicago.

The 2017 World Rugby women’s player of the year was told a week ago she would be fly­ing to Chicago to pro­mote the Black Ferns v USA test match to be played at Soldier Field this Novem­ber.

So at short no­tice she packed her bags, flew over and spent the day pro­mot­ing New Zealand Rugby, women’s rugby and the world cham­pion Black Ferns.

‘‘I was meant to be in Thames Val­ley for the last cou­ple of days, but I had to get flown over here for this,’’ she said.

Tra­di­tion­ally oc­cu­pied by NFL, the Chicago sta­dium has hosted the All Blacks twice, the lat­est a de­feat to Ire­land which ended the team’s 18-win world record streak.

Come Novem­ber it will be the Black Ferns’ time to shine.

‘‘I was talk­ing to one of the USA play­ers to­day and they are re­ally ex­cited as well. You know for us we are re­ally ex­cited you know, to come to Chicago,’’ Cocksedge said.

‘‘I never thought we would get to play at Soldier Field. You watch the All Blacks there and I never thought I’d get the

op­por­tu­nity, but it’s hap­pened and it’s re­ally cool.’’

This will be the first time the Black Ferns have played in North Amer­ica and the women’s match will be part of a triple-header, with New Zealand Maori play­ing the US Ea­gles fol­lowed by an Ire­land v Italy test match.

It is Cocksedge’s first time in Chicago and will be for many more of her Black Ferns team­mates af­ter they are selected in Au­gust to tour to the US. It is ex­pected coach Glenn Moore will name sev­eral new caps di­rectly af­ter World Cup year 2017.

NZR see the test match as an op­por­tu­nity to grow women’s rugby. Last month they an­nounced a two-test dou­ble­header with the All Blacks in Syd­ney and Auck­land.

At 29, Cocksedge sounded as ex­cited as she has ever been since play­ing with the side.

‘‘With me be­ing in the team for 11 years I’ve trav­elled a lot of places and be­ing the year af­ter the World Cup there are go­ing to be a lot of new girls in the team.

‘‘It is su­per ex­cit­ing that these girls are go­ing to get the op­por­tu­nity to come and play in Amer­ica.

‘‘I think it just helps rugby in gen­eral you know. I think Amer­ica is ob­vi­ously well known for Amer­i­can foot­ball, base­ball and ice hockey. So rugby is seen as a mi­nor­ity sport here and the more that they get ex­po­sure to, the more games they have, well peo­ple are go­ing to see it and they go­ing to want to play.’’

Cocksedge says hear­ing about a Black Ferns tour of the United States will have a large im­pact on young Kiwi girls and women tak­ing up rugby back home in New Zealand.

‘‘The more women and young girls see these things hap­pen the more they are go­ing to want to play and the more they will as­pire to be Black Ferns.’’

GETTY IM­AGES

San­dra Cocksedge is thrilled that the Black Ferns will be trav­el­ling to Chicago to play the United States.

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