Rugby World Cup finalist Cokayne prepares for school reunion

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By Creative Media News

Three players from a single secondary school in remote Manawatu competing in the same Rugby World Cup final is remarkable. Even more unusual is the fact that one of the trio, Amy Cokayne, will be donning a white jersey to thwart her childhood friends’ Eden Park glory aspirations.

When she was nine years old, the English-born hooker immigrated to New Zealand with her family after her father was recruited by the New Zealand Air Force. She was almost claimed by the Black Ferns as a youngster but ultimately chose the Red Roses, placing her in direct opposition to her longtime friend Sarah Hirini (née Goss) and another Feilding High School alumna Georgia Ponsonby.

Rugby world cup finalist cokayne prepares for school reunion
Rugby world cup finalist cokayne prepares for school reunion

Hirini, one of New Zealand’s most celebrated female athletes, is such a good friend that she stayed with the Cokayne family in Lichfield right following the 2017 World Cup. Even Cokayne cannot believe the two are about to engage in combat on such a grand platform. “It’s a little strange yet very cool. Our families are pretty tight, as she is a very close friend. Who would have believed that we would have gone from Feilding to Eden Park?”

Considering Feilding High School won 53 consecutive games with Cokayne as captain, perhaps it is not as shocking as it seems. Wesley Clarke, the assistant coach of the Black Ferns, is also from Manawatu and worked with Cokayne on her technical skills when they were younger.

Clarke claims that Cokayne made the greatest influence on her when he brought her to a coaching session for local male players. “She instructed the men on how to play hooky, and they asked, ‘Who is this girl?'” She is also a special human being. Unfortunately, we ended up losing her.”

Rob Jones, Cokayne’s former high school coach, will be among those making the six-hour trek from Manawatu to see the final. All parties are looking forward to the reunion. It would be good to perhaps have a photo of us three with him, as he played such a significant role in our development,” admits Cokayne.

Beyond that, however, the 26-year-old is intent on capturing the trophy that evaded her and several colleagues in 2017. Longtime scrum-half for the Black Ferns, Kendra Cocksedge, is among those wanting to cap a remarkable career with one more victory, but Cokayne has other plans.

“It’s the World Cup final, you can’t help but feel excited. With Kendra playing her final game, their team has several noteworthy tales, among them. She desires a storybook ending, and we desire to be the antagonists in that story.”

The fact that her father named his daughter Amy Victoria Fiona Cokayne so that her initials would match those of his favorite football team, Aston Villa, is a further indication that the Cokayne family has a strong English identity.

Despite this, her New Zealand upbringing has taught her that the Black Ferns will be desperate to retain the trophy at home. “It was evident from their jubilation following their semi-final match how much reaching the final meant to them. It ought to be a delectable fixture.”

The only other unanswered questions are the weather and squad selections, as Hollie Davidson, from Scotland, has been named as the referee for the final. This week has been damp in Auckland, which may favor England’s forwards this weekend, while the formidable New Zealand No. 8 Liana Mikaele-Tu’u is out with a broken thumb.

Hannah Botterman and Helena Rowland are also expected to miss the final for England due to injury, but Cokayne insists the Red Roses pack is prepared to grind out an ugly victory if required. “The media likes to suggest that our driving is monotonous. But if that’s what it takes to win the game, in ten years no one will care how we did it. It’s about completing the task.

This week, our slogan has been ‘Be You, Be Us.’ We don’t need to do anything strange or extraordinary to win this weekend. If everyone fulfills their responsibilities, we believe we have enough to win.”

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