Rugby: Dawn of new era for Black Ferns as World Cup rivals England await in WXV1 finale

It may be a repeat of last year's Rugby World Cup final, but the Black Ferns feel like a new team ahead of this weekend's WXV1 showdown with England.

Only 11 of the 23 that claimed that dramatic victory on Eden Park remain and the personnel aren't the only thing that's changed.

There's been a familiar feeling around training this week.

"Any chance we get to play England is exciting," said NZ hooker Georgia Ponsonby. "It only comes around once a year."

The last time it came around, the Black Ferns scraped past England in the Rugby World Cup final.

 But Allan Bunting's side aren't dwelling on that success, confident they've moved into a new era.

"Last year was our first year being professional and I think the biggest area of growth there was our ability to be conditioned for professional sport," noted captain Ruahei Demant.

"Being able to train every day, allowing us to get fitter, faster, and stronger has definitely meant we can play a fitter, faster, and stronger game," Ponsonby added.

There has also been significant player turnover among the English ranks, with only 10 players returning from last year's final.

"We have a very new team," said prop Sarah Bern. "We have new coaches and think it's the same for New Zealand.

"For us, this is fresh. We've got a new start."

England have won all nine tests they played this year and the Black Ferns have spent plenty of time working out how to combat the rolling maul that brought their four tries in the Cup final. 

But the Red Roses insist they aren't one trick ponies.

"We'll still have those driving mauls but definitely watch out for new attacking stuff the backs have got going," said Bern.

Join Newshub at 7pm Saturday for live updates of the Black Ferns v England WXV1 test