Alphonsi: Lessons learned
Flanker Maggie Alphonsi believes England have learned their lessons and revealed morale is soaring as they prepare to get their Women’s Rugby World Cup campaign underway.
Gary Street's side begin their quest for a second world title when they take on Samoa in Paris on Friday, although their recent appearances on the biggest stage have ended in final heartache.
England have fallen at the final hurdle in the last three Women's Rugby World Cups, losing to New Zealand each time, but Alphonsi believes the blend of youth and experience will serve them well.
Alphonsi claims Six Nations disappointment earlier in the year - where they were narrowly edged by France - has helped England develop as a squad.
\"There was a lot of things we needed to work on but we've had time to work on those things,\" she told Sky Sports.
\"The Six Nations was a big lesson for us and highlighted the areas we really need to improve on. If anything, times have changed, we believe we can do this.
\"We have a new bunch of players who are really keen; we have nine players that have never been to a World Cup so they're really excited, we've got five players who've been to three World Cups so if anything we have a real good blend of experience and youth.\"
Despite losing to the Black Ferns in Spain, Canada and on home soil, vice-captain Sarah Hunter believes their 16-13 triumph over New Zealand in 2012 has quashed their air of invincibility.
\"The aura about the Black Ferns is not necessarily there, everyone here has played them and everyone here has beaten them,\" she claimed.
\"We know when we're at our best we can do it and be as good as anyone else in the world.
\"It's about our execution and going out there and performing and we can probably beat any team out there when we're on form.\"
Meanwhile, head coach Street insists England are ready to go one better after a hat-trick of runners-up medals and add to their 1994 title.
He said: \"It's a new team, it's a new squad and there's definitely a buzz, we're in the best place we've ever been but hopefully even better this time.\"
You can see every match from the Women's Rugby World Cup live on Sky Sports with coverage starting at 2:30pm on August 1