Rugby World Cup: Black Ferns unleash weapon wing Ayesha Leti-I'iga, as crunchtime looms

The Black Ferns will have the luxury of welcoming back one of test rugby's premier wrecking balls for their Rugby World Cup pool finale at Whangārei on Saturday.

After being sidelined for two months with injury, Ayesha Leti-I'iga has been named to make her tournament debut against Scotland this weekend.

The 23-year-old [he was in explosive form in the build up to the event, running riot during the Pacific Four in June with her unique blend of pace, skills and raw power.

In fact, coach Wayne Smith went as far as to label his not-so-secret weapon the "best player in the world" during that series.

"You don't hear that often so it's pretty special," Let-iiga said after hearing her coach's plaudit. "True or not, it actually gives me confidence."

A grade-one calf tear suffered during the Laurie O'Reilly Cup against Australia in August scuppered her chances to take the field against the Wallaroos and Wales, but she'll make her highly-anticipated return at Okara Park this weekend.

"When I got told [I was playing] I was a bit emotional and overwhelmed," she said.

"I've played a couple of games in the black jersey but I havent played in the World Cup yet, so this one means so much more to me."

The Wellington prodigy has run in nine tries in 17 tests in her young Black Ferns career to date and admitted her enforced absence has made her appreciate even more how much representing her country means to her.

Leti-I'iga admitted she initially had doubts she'd be able to participate at all at the pinnacle event, prepared to face being replaced in the squad altogether.

"I was gutted at the time, but I think if anything it was a blessing in disguise," she noted. "I learnt how to serve my team off the field. 

"I think that's made the bond so much stronger and it made being black in the jersey so much more worth it."

Although Smith claims he's yet to settle one a first XV, the idea behind shifting Ruby Tui across to fullback is likely part of his vision to field what would be a lethal outside back trio featuring powerhouse wing Poria Woodman, Tui and Leti-I'iga, then the knockout stages begin next week.

After watching Portia Woodman and Ruby Tui tear opposition defences apart through the first two weeks of the competition, Woodman is itching to get in on the act.

"It's so exciting," added Leti-I'iga. "For me to step out on that field tomorrow, I'm taking my family with me. I'm just going out there and giving it my all for this team."

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