Kennedy Cherrington has worn the Sky Blue of NSW, will wear the colours of Parramatta in 2022 but it’s the green of the Māori All Stars jumper that has been the most significant of her rugby league career.
Cherrington credits the All Stars fixture, which will be played in Sydney for the first time on February 12 at CommBank Stadium, for helping her reconnect with her Māori culture.
“I feel like I’m somebody now. I feel like I have found myself, as cliche as that sounds,” Cherrington said.
“There is something about culture and heritage, when you are repressing it, it feels different.
“It feels special. I mean no disrespect to the Blues, Roosters or Parramatta jersey but the All Stars Māori jersey for me holds personal significance. I’m representing my family name and my culture, where I come from.”
Cherrington stepped up to represent her whānau [family] in impressive fashion, doing so in her native Maori language at the launch of the All Stars match.
Cherrington took the microphone, and to a packed crowd of media, politicians and other officials, gave a traditional Māori introduction.
“I introduced myself in our te ao Māori, our language. It was my name, my iwi [tribe], my hapū [sub tribe], my waka which is my [boat], my river, my mountain. I basically put myself on the map of exactly where I come from in New Zealand,” she said.
Once her obligations with the Māori All Stars have wrapped up Cherrington is hoping to put herself and new Eels teammates on the NRLW map.
The Brisbane Broncos have dominated the competition since it’s inception in 2018, winning three straight titles.
While Cherrington was hesitant to declare her outfit would be the side to finally end Parramatta’s 35-year title drought, the backrower believes the Eels can give the NRLW a shake in 2022.
“The Broncos have been the pioneers of the NRLW but I don’t think the new teams are getting enough credit. The three teams coming in are very strong and are going to give the competition a shake-up,” Cherrington said.
“Our team culture is thriving at the moment, we’ve had a few get-togethers already. The team culture almost feels like an All Stars camp because that’s how immersed we are … something is fizzing.
“Something is building really nicely there. We are just so excited.”
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