Rugby World Cup: Black Ferns can't contain excitement as world record crowd creeps closer for Eden Park opener

The dream of playing their Rugby World Cup opener is creeping closer to becoming a reality for the Black Ferns, who open their home campaign on Saturday against Australia.

As of Friday morning, less than 1000 tickets remain for the Eden Park clash, with the prospect of a sold out attendance of 40,000 being a world record for a women's test match.

For the team themselves, a sellout would be another boost as they aim to defend their title, with the women's World Cup played on home soil for the first time.

The Black Ferns.
The Black Ferns. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

"I'm getting goosebumps," Sarah Hirini told AM. "It's a pretty incredible feat, and something we've been pushing as a team.

"For it to be close to 40,000 is crazy."

Understandably, the pressure of expectation in a home World Cup is something the players are aware of, and prepared for.

Of the 23 named to face Australia on Saturday, 17 will make their first World Cup appearance.

Fullback Renee Holmes is one of those players but asserts the team are relishing the pressure and expectation on their shoulders.

"I think I'll wake up tomorrow morning and feel it a little bit more," Holmes added. "Just hearing that many people [are] coming, we've had talks about it. 

"There's pressures of it being a home World Cup, but it's good pressure. Everyone's going to be there to support us, that's something [that's] really exciting."

Ruahei Demant and Kennedy Simon with the Rugby World Cup.
Ruahei Demant and Kennedy Simon with the Rugby World Cup. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

For Hirini, this year's World Cup is just the latest step in what's already been a packed 2022.

The 29-year-old has already captained the Black Ferns Sevens to Commonwealth Games bronze and World Cup silver.

But with those tournaments played in England and South Africa respectively, the chance of stepping out in front of a home crowd in Aotearoa will take things to a different level.

"Just playing at home is really different," Hirini continued. "A lot of our stuff is overseas.

"To be here, around Auckland, anywhere you go there's people who say hi, want a photo, kids are always around and they know all the girls' names.

"When the bus drives to training, everyone's waving at you. [It's] pretty cool.

"Having that in the build up to the games, and for the World Cup opener, it's going to set the tone for the World Cup.

"If you're not at the game, you're going to miss out on a world record breaker, and something pretty special."

Watch the Rugby World Cup live on Spark Sport or free-to-air on Three, or join us on Saturday for live updates of the Black Ferns v Australia World Cup opener.