Black Ferns halfback Kendra Cocksedge became the first woman to claim New Zealand's top rugby award last night, claiming the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year gong ahead of All Blacks Richie Mo'unga, Brodie Retallick and Codie Taylor.

She also claimed the New Zealand Rugby Women's Player of the Year award, for the second time, and earned the nod as winner of the Fiao'o Faamausili Medal for the top player in this year's Farah Palmer Cup.

Here are 10 things to know about how Cocksedge reached the pinnacle of New Zealand rugby:
1. Cocksedge first picked up a rugby ball at four years old – preferring it to dance lessons – and learned to become a goal-kicker in her backyard in Taranaki, with her dad having goalposts set up.

2. Growing up in Taranaki, Cocksedge also has a link to Taranaki rugby royalty, with a family connection to the Barretts. You have to go back some way – with the Barrett brothers' great granddad having a brother who was Cocksedge's granddad, but the connection remains, with Cocksedge and Beauden Barrett having teamed up for goal-kicking tutorials in the past.

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3. Cocksedge was a young star in two sports – having captained both the 1st XV and 1st XI at New Plymouth Girls High School. She made her mark in cricket, playing for Central Districts and New Zealand A, but soon had to choose between the two, and rugby won out.

4. The 30-year-old made her test debut in 2007, and has since earned 47 caps, and scored over 250 points. She has won two World Cups in her career, out of the three she has attended, and also won a Rugby World Cup Sevens title in 2013.

New Zealand's Kendra Cocksedge scores a try during the Black Ferns vs Australia Women's rugby match at Eden Park. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
New Zealand's Kendra Cocksedge scores a try during the Black Ferns vs Australia Women's rugby match at Eden Park. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

5.

However, despite her fast start to her career, she also had to overcome some setbacks. She was dropped from the national sevens team shortly after winning the world title, and focused on the 15-woman format of the game, quickly becoming the first-choice halfback.

6. As a result, in 2015, she was named Women's World Rugby Player of the Year, backing up from her victory as New Zealand Rugby Women's Player of the Year in the same year.

7. When she's not dominating on the park, Cocksedge is giving back to the game she loves, with her full-time job seeing her in charge as New Zealand Rugby's Women's Rugby Development Manager, for the Crusaders region.

Kendra Cocksedge. Photo / Getty Images.
Kendra Cocksedge. Photo / Getty Images.

8.

She has been a star for Canterbury for a long time – being the top scorer in the history of New Zealand first-class women's rugby. She has scored the most tries for Canterbury, and led her province to their first Farah Palmer Cup title in 2017.

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9. She then made that back-to-back titles with a stunning performance in the final against Counties Manukau this season. Cocksedge racked up 27 points in her 75th match for the province, scoring two tries and nailing all eight attempts off the tee, with seven conversions and one penalty, as Canterbury won 52-29.

10. Now, Cocksedge's goal is to join Fiao'o Faamausili in reaching 50 caps for the Black Ferns.


"My motivation at the moment is to keep enjoying being given the opportunity and being grateful for wearing the black jersey but also I really want to get to 50 tests for the Black Ferns and still be playing some of my best rugby," she told World Rugby.