Injured trio to miss England-NZ RWC final

England will be without injured pair Helena Rowland and Hannah Botterman for the women's Rugby World Cup final, while opponents New Zealand will be missing No.8 Liana Mikaele-Tu'u.

Prop Botterman sustained a knee injury in training last week, while fullback Rowland picked up a foot problem 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 own comeback from a broken leg by scoring two tries in that victory and will line up in the back three at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday (7.30pm AEDT) 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.

Mikaele-Tu'u suffered a thumb injury in New Zealand's victory over France last weekend and is replaced at the back of the scrum by Charmaine McMenamin, one of six players who played in the 2017 World Cup final victory over England.

New Zealand were the last team to beat England, in 2019 in San Diego, but the Red Roses have since handed the Black Ferns back-to-back defeats.

"There can be no bigger challenge in sport than to play the world champions in their own backyard in front of a sell-out crowd - 99.9 per cent of which will be forming part of the opposition," England coach Simon Middleton said.

"Great teams don't fear those challenges, they embrace them, and meet them head on - that's what we intend to do."

Black Ferns coach Wayne Smith, who has chopped and changed his team throughout an unbeaten year, said he was pleased to name an almost unchanged side for the final.

"We are pretty happy with the continuity in this line-up and only the one change this week," he said.

"It is going to be a massive challenge.

"We are playing against possibly one of the greatest teams in the history of rugby ... it's going to take a huge effort."


New Zealand: Renee Holmes, Ruby Tui, Stacey Fluhler, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Portia Woodman, Ruahei Demant (capt), Kendra Cocksedge, Charmaine McMenamin, Sarah Hirini, Alana Bremner, Chelsea Bremner, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Amy Rule, Georgia Ponsonby, Phillipa Love. Reserves: Luka Connor, Krystal Murray, Santo Taumata, Joanah Ngan-Woo, Kennedy Simon, Ariana Bayler, Hazel Tubic, Ayesha Leti-l'iga.

England: Ellie Kildunne, Lydia Thompson, Emily Scarratt, Holly Aitchison, Abby Dow, Zoe Harrison, Leanne Infante, Sarah Hunter (capt), Marlie Packer, Alex Matthews, Abbie Ward, Zoe Aldcroft, Sarah Bern, Amy Cokayne, Vickii Cornborough. Reserves: Lark Davies, Maud Muir, Shaunagh Brown, Cath O'Donnell, Poppy Cleall, Sadia Kabeya, Claudia MacDonald, Tatyana Heard.