Cup veteran revels in pacemaker role after table turns
Kendra Cocksedge never expected to find herself in this position.
When she made her debut for Canterbury in 2007 after moving south from Taranaki, every side was chasing Auckland. That didn’t change for the next eight seasons, with the northern region dominating the Farah Palmer Cup.
Now, it’s a different story. Canterbury are at the head of the pack, chasing their fifth straight title with a target on their backs.
“I’ve been with this side a long time and I never ever thought we’d win a Farah Palmer Cup, so to have won it four times and going for a fifth is really exciting,” Cocksedge said.
“It’s important to thrive on that. The same thing happens at international level with the Black Ferns — everyone wants to upset you. With us in Canterbury now, we’ve become that dominant team, which is really exciting for us.”
Canterbury’s quest for a fifth straight title begins this weekend, with the Farah Palmer Cup getting back under way today.
With the competition running during the same period as the Tokyo Olympics, several teams will be without the services of star players for their campaigns.
Northland will be without Portia Woodman and Tyla Nathan-Wong, Counties Manukau will be missing Ruby Tui, Auckland will be without Theresa Fitzpatrick, Waikato will be missing Stacey Fluhler and Tenika Willison, while Alena Saili and Risaleaana Pouri-Lane will be missing from the Bay of Plenty team.
For Canterbury, while they have
won the last four titles, they come into the season with a new-look squad as well, and captain Alana Bremner said that provided the side with all the motivation they needed to continue their winning ways.
“The five-peat is always in the back of our minds, but we have a new team this year and a new group of girls who have never won it before,” Bremner said.
After playing out a geographicallybased competition with a North pool and South pool in 2020, the competition will revert to being run as two divisions — the premiership and championship — which will see the more matches between the likes of Canterbury, Auckland, Counties Manukau, Wellington and Waikato.
“I think it’s better for everyone; there will be more competitive games which is always a good thing,” Bremner said of the competition structure.
“You saw last year, the pressure in the final [against Waikato], we hadn’t had that as much all season, so when it comes to it, it will be good to have that throughout the round games this year.”