Rugby World Cup: Black Ferns record-breaker Portia Woodman on New Zealand's 'headstart' to exorcise demons against France

Fresh from breaking the record for most Rugby World Cup tries, Black Ferns winger Portia Woodman backs her side to exorcise any demons from their last meeting against France in this week's semi-final.

With two tries against Wales at Whangārei, Woodman, 31, equalled and then overtook former England fullback Sue Day as the most prolific tryscorer in tournament history.

Woodman has now scored 20 tries from two separate World Cup campaigns - 13 in 2017, seven and counting this year.

Her 65 points went a long way towards New Zealand winning the title five years ago and hopes of a repeat performance aren't out of the question, as they now progress into the final four.

But like any great winger, Woodman wouldn't be where she is without the help of her teammates, a contribution she's quick to acknowledge, when reminded of her recordbreaking achievement.

"It's pretty incredible," Woodman told Newshub. "You see the people that are on that top list - Jonah Lomu, Sue Day, Bryan Habana - it's absolutely awesome to be on the same level as them.

"For them too, they'd say it's a credit to their teammates and it's the exact same with me.

"I wouldn't be able to score the tries or do what I do, if it wasn't for them."

Portia Woodman scores against Wales.
Portia Woodman scores against Wales. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

For now, the team's attention turns solely to France at Eden Park on Saturday.

The semi-final match-up provides New Zealand the chance to avenge the defeats suffered on their 2021 northern tour, where the Black Ferns weren't just beaten, but outclassed by their hosts.

For Woodman, those results - with the reigning world champions losing four straight tests - are mitigated by a disrupted two-year spell beforehand.

And with the winning feeling firmly embedded in the side under coach Wayne Smith, Woodman insists the Black Ferns can get past France to reach another World Cup final.

"When we played them last year, we'd had two years of no rugby," Woodman continued.

"This year, we've had a massive [schedule]. We've had PacFour, Laurie O'Reilly and now we've had four [World Cup] games.

"We've got a lot of gains under our belt, we've learned a lot.

Portia Woodman against Australia.
Portia Woodman against Australia. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

"We're not perfect, definitely not. We've got a lot to work on, but I think comparing last year to where we are now, we've played a lot of rugby.

"Within the team, we've got a really cool environment, really awesome culture, the girls believe in each other and in themselves.

"That's a great headstart."

Catch the Rugby World Cup live on Spark Sport or free-to-air on Three, or join us from 7:30pm Saturday for live updates of the Black Ferns v France semi-final