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England lose Pocock and Fisher for World Cup final

Picutred: Wing Kat Merchant who is back in the starting team.

By Ali Donnelly

England have been forced into a couple of key changes to their starting line-up for the Women's Rugby World Cup final with both Fiona Pocock and Heather Fisher ruled out through injury.

Street has made four changes in all to the starting team from the side who defeated Australia 15-0 in the semi-finals, with a further two changes on the bench.

Pocock has failed to recover from the knee injury she sustained after taking a heavy blow under a tackle from Nicole Beck in the semi-final and her place has gone to experienced winger Kat Merchant who was a surprise omission from the semi-final squad.

Fisher injured her hand late in the semi-final so Sarah Hunter moves up from the bench to take her spot. The other changes in the first 15 are Sophie Hemming who comes in at prop for Rosemarie Crowley, who missed out completely, and stalwart centre Rachel Burford comes back in at 12 for Alice Richardson who is benched.

On the bench Street has brought in Claire Purdy as front row cover and Amber Penrith replaces Michaela Staniford.

The squad rotation is no real surprise as Street has always had a policy of rolling his squad, benefitting from strength in depth however Fisher and Pocock will be losses. Merchant is a more than able replacement on the wing but Pocock was in flying form and has been alongside Carla Hohepa for New Zealand, one of the best wingers at the tournament. Fisher too is a loss. She had a quiet semi-final but her running threat was key in England's last win against the Black Ferns.

Street said: The World Cup Final is a huge challenge, but it's what we've been preparing for, for a long time and we're confident that we can achieve our aim and lift the world cup. The pool games have been incredibly tough and physical and a great spectacle for the viewers. However, our unwavering plan of using all 26 squad players has got us to this point fresh and it is a testament to the quality of every player we have. Although we have now picked up a couple of injuries, the depth means that we can carry on as normal and shuffle the pack. Heather and Fiona have been a massive part of our success to date and they'll be in our hearts on Sunday.

England last played the three times reigning world champions in November in a two test series in England and the two sides picked up a win each, most noticeably for England winning 10-3 in front of a record crowd at Twickenham Stadium live on television and securing their first win over the Black Ferns in eight years.

Street added: This final promises to be a titanic clash between the best two female sides in the world and I've no doubt that the television audience and the large crowd at the Stoop will be treated to a fantastic game of rugby.

The squad we have selected is probably the most experienced squad in history even though it is still relatively young. We have power up front and great quality in our backline, which means we can play a multi faceted game. We need to reduce our error count with the ball but keep up our tremendous defensive effort we have showed so far. Our job is to complete the dream and pick up the trophy on Sunday evening.

Tickets are still available for the final at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday. Buy yours HERE.

New Zealand have also named their team. See it HERE.

England: Danielle Waterman, Charlotte Barras, Emily Scarratt, Rachael Burford, Katherine Merchant, Katy McLean, Amy Turner, Rochelle Clark, Amy Garnett, Sophie Hemming, Tamara Taylor, Jo McGilchrist, Sarah Hunter, Margaret Alphonsi, Catherine Merchant Bristol Captain

Replacements:Emma Croker, Claire Purdy, Becky Essex, Sarah Beale, La Toya Mason, Alice Richardson , Amber Penrith