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England’s Thompson and Aitchison will face New Zealand in the World Cup final

England’s Thompson and Aitchison will face New Zealand in the World Cup final

England coach Simon Middleton said he is confident his team will rise to the ultimate challenge when they face New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday. Middleton has unveiled a minor modification to the starting XV featuring winger Lydia Thompson and quarterback Holly Aitchison and believes his players are ready to take on the added pressure for the occasion.

In the absence of injured Helena Rowland, Middleton called in expert Thompson to help contain the appearance of the dangerous black fern outside, while Aitchison replaces Tatiana Heard in the middle. Eli Keldon will now start at centre-back, with Heard and Claudia MacDonald on the bench.

There are also six alternatives forward, including Saadia Kabia, Cath O’Donnell and Shawnagh Brown, as England look to stop their attack-oriented hosts from the source in the final at Eden Park.

“When things get tough, this team knows how to move forward,” Middleton said. “That’s why we enjoy the Sabbath and all that it will bring.

“There can be no greater challenge in the sport than playing the world champions in their own backyard in front of a huge crowd – 99.9% of whom will be part of the opponent. Great teams are not afraid of those challenges, they embrace them and face them head-on. That is what we intend to do.” .

Middleton also praised his team’s “ability, resilience and unwavering belief in each other” as they search for their 31st successive Test win. “You always strive to create something special in team sport and we did that with this set of red roses,” the coach added. “We know in our hearts that this will likely be the last time this group will meet together, but what they have created and achieved will last for a long time.

Hannah Potterman, here in the semi-final against Canada, missed the final due to injury. Photo: Hagen Hopkins/World Rugby/Getty Images

“I couldn’t be more proud of the squad, how we managed ourselves and how we performed. We have set ourselves a goal to leave this country a better team than when we arrived and no matter what happens on Saturday, we will do it.”

England are also keen to raise the trophy for all of their non-team teammates, including injured Hannah Puterman and Laura Kitts as well as absent friends such as Briony Kleil and Natasha “Moe” Hunt, who narrowly missed out on selection for the World Cup final squad. .

Brown, for example, says she is eager to win Saturday’s game “in honor” of Potterman, who injured his knee in training before the semi-final against Canada. “I want her to know that everything I’ve worked for over the past five years is still worth it,” said Prop Harlequins. “It’s also for the people who trained with us all summer and didn’t succeed here. I love to play but a big part of it now for me is to play for other people.”

New Zealand vs England, 6.30am GMT on Saturday 12th November

New Zealand Holmes. Tui, Fluehler; Fitzpatrick, Woodman; Dimant (c), Cocksedge; Love, Ponsonby, Rule, Roos, C Bremner, A Bremner, Hirini, McMenamin
alternativesConnor, Murray, Tomata, Ngan-Woo, Simon, Byler, Toppik, Leyte-League

EnglandKeldon. Thompson, Scarratt; Aitchison, Dow; Harrison, Infante; Kornborough, Cocken, Berne, Aldecroft, Ward, Matthews, M. Bakker, Hunter (Capt).
alternativesDavis, Brown, Muir, O’Donnell, P. Kleil, Capia, Heard,
McDonald.

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Quick guide

Women’s Rugby World Cup Final Teams

Displays

New Zealand vs England, 6.30am GMT on Saturday 12th November

New Zealand Holmes. Tui, Fluehler; Fitzpatrick, Woodman; Dimant (c), Cocksedge; Love, Ponsonby, Rule, Roos, C Bremner, A Bremner, Hirini, McMenamin
alternatives Connor, Murray, Tomata, Ngan-Woo, Simon, Byler, Toppik, Leyte-League

England Keldon. Thompson, Scarratt; Aitchison, Dow; Harrison, Infante; Kornborough, Cocken, Berne, Aldecroft, Ward, Matthews, M. Bakker, Hunter (Capt).
alternatives Davis, Brown, Muir, O’Donnell, P. Kleil, Capia, Heard,
McDonald.

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The 32-year-old Brown, who only played the game seven years ago, also indicated that the team are excited to take the final leap to help boost the game’s image further in England. “We want to play for the kid at home who has never played the game before but watches it on TV and sees a group of girls having fun.

“It also has to do with the social acceptance of women who play rugby. How many times, to this day, I hear people tell women that they are too young or not strong enough to play rugby. You just think: “In what world do you live?” on every women’s team There is a lot of difference in size, weight and height. Rugby is very special in the way it celebrates different types of human beings.”

There is also a desire to justify the Rugby Football Association’s decision to offer professional contracts to the leading players in the wake of their defeat to New Zealand in the 2017 World Cup final. “It will reinforce that we deserve it,” Brown says. “If you invest in us, that’s what a full-time program can do.”

The final is set to be attended by a world record crowd of more than 40,000 women, with Brown insisting nerves wouldn’t be an issue for the Red Roses.

“We’re in a good place and now it’s time for another dance. The coaches have reinforced the fact that we don’t need to stress. We just need to play the way we play every two weeks. Yes, it’s a big problem. Yes, it’s the World Cup final. But we’re here because we won it.”

The Black Ferns made only one injury change in round 23 of the match, with 2017 World Cup winner Charmaine McMenamin replacing Liana Michael Toe, who had sustained a thumb injury in the semi-final win. The team includes six players who participated in the 2017 World Cup Final against the same opponent.


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