Women's Rugby World Cup: Countdown begins, 100 days to go as Black Ferns look to inspire next generation

There's just 100 days to go until the 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup, after it was postponed last year due to COVID-19, and the Black Ferns view it as the ideal launching pad to inspire the next generation.

New Zealand are looking to defend their crown on home soil, having never hosted the event, despite being reigning and five-time champions.

Black Ferns veteran halfback Kendra Cocksedge admits there's a unique buzz within the camp, and believes having the prestigious tournament at home has been long overdue.

"It's really exciting," she said. "Obviously it was really challenging when the World Cup got postponed, so the fact there's only 100 days to go creates a lot of excitement, not just us as players, but the public as well.

"I never thought that would happen. You never know when you start playing, when these things are going to pop up. The fact that it's here in New Zealand, at home, at Eden Park, it's really exciting.

"I'm going to do everything I can in the next 100 days to make sure that I'm a part of that side. It's just awesome that we get to have it here in New Zealand for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere." 

The Black Ferns recently won the Pacific Four Nations Series, with New Zealand going unbeaten against Australia, United States and Canada.

But with the games played in Whangārei, Tauranga and Waitākere, Cocksedge is excited by the prospect of playing the World Cup at Eden Park, and sees it as the perfect opportunity to inspire the next generation.

"What a place to have it, rugby is in our blood here. To people able to play in front of family and friends, obviously just coming off the Pacific Four Nations, that was exciting and we got a little glimpse of it but come October, it's going to be even better," she said.

"It's hugely important. I sat alongside and watched some of the Cricket World Cup games and even just watching, looking at the crowd.

"I think it's massive, it's huge for the game. Huge for us as players, there's nothing better than playing in front of a home, rowdy crowd that gets behind you.

"I think it's going to be important for the game, as role models with young ones coming through, putting the women's game out on the world stage. Especially in a country that has rugby in its blood."

Australia proved New Zealand's toughest hurdle at the Pacific Four Nations, but the Black Ferns still ran out 23-10 winners in tough, testing conditions.

Cocksedge concedes there's still plenty to improve on before the World Cup, but with former All Blacks assistant Wayne Smith as head coach, they will still look to play an attacking brand of rugby, in any weather.

"There's still a lot of water to go under the bridge in the next 100 days and we've got a lot to work on and we want to make sure we're not sitting back and putting our feet up," Cocksedge continued.

"The hard work starts now but we got to bridge that gap between the likes of England and France.

"He's [Wayne Smith] massive on that, he wants us to be able to play, express ourselves and says if we don't make mistakes, we're not learning.

"The fact we're starting to play with the ball in those conditions just shows there's going to be some exciting rugby coming up."

Three will have free-to-air coverage of the Women's Rugby World Cup, starting October 8