Cocksedge can’t crack glass ceiling
Kendra Cocksedge's outstanding form for her province and the Black Ferns has pushed her into the frame for recognition as New Zealand's player of the year.
It's an intriguing call and when the decision is announced at Thursday's awards I'll wager Cocksedge will take honours in the women's section but won't crack the glass ceiling for the overall trophy.
There'll be an injustice if All Black hooker Codie Taylor does not get that recognition for his consistently high levels of performance ahead of the other nominees Richie Mo'unga, Brodie Retallick and Cocksedge.
Cocksedge's elevation to the final four will create debate about how the men's and women's games can be compared and whether that should occur. On many levels of skill, decision-making and impact there is a negligible gender gap but in other parts of rugby there are differences which will not be closed.
Does that mean men and women should not be judged against each other or should they be rated on how dominant their performances are compared to colleagues and rivals?
My hunch is that unless the judging panel changes and a Black Fern shows some Lomu-like dominance throughout a season, the Kelvin Tremain award will always go to an All Black.
Unless the judging panel changes and a Black Fern shows some Lomulike dominance throughout a season, the top award will always go to an All Black.
Four males and Farah Palmer are on the panel this year and while they have shown their appreciation of Cocksedge's qualities in the nation's top female side, I can't see their judgment singling her out as the nation's player of the year.
Not because of the shockwaves that decision would send through the ceremony audience at the Sky City Auckland Convention Centre, those watching on television and others wanting to engage in public discussions but because Taylor's work was on a different level.
A better debate might be how Cocksedge's work at halfback throughout 2018 compared to the production from Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi who played All Black tests this year.
Clearly the same judges have assessed her contributions were better than the All Black trio and that her influence on her side and results was more pronounced than her male counterparts.
Not too many would quibble with that verdict. Smith's game wavered in calibre and content throughout the year, Perenara was better but his passing remains a work in progress while we need to see more of Tahuriorangi to get a better gauge.