Rugby World Cup: Black Ferns star No.8 Liana Mikaele-Tu'u ruled out of final against England at Eden Park

The Black Ferns are on the verge of making history with the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday - but they will have to topple favourites England without star No.8 Liana Mikaele-Tu'u.

Mikaele-Tu'u went off at halftime in New Zealand's semi-final win over France, but has now also been ruled out of the final at Eden Park.

She started all but one of their matches at the World Cup, having only missed the pool clash against Wales.

Her absence could open up the door for Black Ferns co-captain Kennedy Simon, who came off the bench in both of their playoff wins.

Assistant coach Wes Clarke admits Mikaele-Tu'u will be a big loss, but she will still offer plenty off the field.

"She's gutted, like you would be," he said. "She's been a big part of our team so far - she's a special human, and I'm sure she will add stuff off the field.

"Even though she's only a young player herself, she's really good at teaching the other players, she does a lot of work on the laptop - you see her late at night.

"All of that stuff will continue, and of course, we've got some pretty handy replacements as well, who I can't mention yet, but they will be excited to get out there."

New Zealand haven't played England since last year's northern tour, where they suffered back-to-back heavy defeats.

Clarke reveals their growth since then has been enormous, as they prepare to overcome a team that hasn't lost in 30 tests.

"It has been a wide range of areas, but the one that stands out to me is our ability to handle pressure on the grass," he said.

"I think we've shown - the first Aussie test taught us that. We did it again on the weekend, we've been chucking quite a bit of pressure on them at training.

"Even today - particularly the defence coach, chucked a little bit of pressure on and it made it really competitive.

"Their ability to block out noise and just do what they have to do, which is getting better and better all the time, so that's probably what stands out for me.

"The challenge for us is that they've won 30 tests in a row. They're battle-hardened, they play a lot more games than us… and they've got a group that's played together for a long time.

"That's going to be their real strength, they've got a system that works for them, a game plan that's really strong, they're not going to change that, I don't think, because it's so effective, and it's so hard to beat and I still think they're the team to beat on the weekend if I was honest."

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