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Black Ferns stick with tried and true for Rugby World Cup final

Black Ferns loose foward Charmaine McMenamin.

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Charmaine McMenamin comes into the Black Ferns starting XV.
Photo: Sarah Reed / www.photosportnz

The Black Ferns have made just one injury-enforced change to the team for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final against England at Eden Park with 2017 World Cup winner Charmaine McMenamin replacing Liana Mikaele-Tu’u, who sustained a thumb injury in the semi-final victory.

The team features six players who took part in the 2017 World Cup final against the same opposition, with McMenamin joined by Sarah Hirini, Kendra Cocksedge, Portia Woodman, Theresa Fitzpatrick and Stacey Fluhler in lining up for consecutive finals.

Black Ferns coach Wayne Smith said he and assistants Wes Clarke and Whitney Hansen were pleased to name a settled team.

“Throughout this whole campaign selection has been incredibly difficult. We are pretty happy with the continuity in this line up and only the one change this week.

“Charmaine comes into the team and she’s already had some good minutes on the field during the World Cup and obviously brings that experience from 2017 as well,” Smith said.

Not shying away from the task at hand, Smith said this weekend will be as tough as they come.

“It is going to be a massive challenge. We are playing against possibly one of the greatest teams in the history of rugby, they’ve won 30 Tests in a row which is remarkable and it’s going to take a huge effort.

“The support for the team has been amazing but that also brings its own challenges, we have to show that we can cope with those challenges and focus on playing the rugby that we love,” Smith said.

This will be the 30th Test between the teams, having first met in 1997, the Black Ferns have won 18, drawn one and lost 10.

It will be the fourth time the teams have met in a Rugby World Cup final, most recently the Black Ferns came from behind to win 41-32 in Ireland in 2017.

There have only been three Tests between the nations since the last World Cup, the Black Ferns winning in San Diego in 2019 – England’s last defeat – before going on a 30-match winning streak, including two wins over the Black Ferns last year.

Abby Dow of England scores a try during the Women's Rugby World Cup semi-final match against Canada at Eden Park

Abby Dow scores for England against Canada
Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Meanwhile, England will be without fullback Helena Rowland and prop Hannah Botterman due to injuries.

Botterman sustained a knee injury in training last week and Rowland picked up a foot injury in Saturday’s 26-19 semi-final win over Canada that extended England’s record winning run to 30 matches.

Winger Abby Dow capped her injury comeback by scoring two tries in that victory and will line up in the back three with the returning Ellie Kildunne and Lydia Thompson.

Holly Aitchison also returns to the team while Claudia MacDonald and Tatyana Heard drop to the bench.

The Black Ferns team to face England for the Rugby World Cup title, at a sold-out Eden Park this Saturday is:

Phillipa Love (24)

Georgia Ponsonby (12)

Amy Rule (11)

Maiakawanakaukani Roos (13)

Chelsea Bremner (11)

Alana Bremner (12)

Sarah Hirini (16)

Charmaine McMenamin (30)

Kendra Cocksedge (67)

Ruahei Demant (25) – co-captain

Portia Woodman (24)

Theresa Fitzpatrick (17)

Stacey Fluhler (24)

Ruby Tui (9)

Renee Holmes (9)

Luka Connor (13)

Krystal Murray (8)

Santo Taumata (6)

Joanah Ngan-Woo (16)

Kennedy Simon (12) – co-captain

Ariana Bayler (7)

Hazel Tubic (21)

Ayesha Leti-I’iga (20)

Unavailable due to injury: Liana Mikaele-Tu’u

Story Credit: rnz.co.nz

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