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Faamausili ready for fifth World Cup challenge

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    08 Aug 2017     Getty Images

She follows Anna Richards, who played in the tournaments between 1991-2010.

It has been a significant journey with the profile of the women's game changing significantly over her career.
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At her first tournament in Spain in 2002 New Zealand beat England in the final 19-9. She was impressed by how much the Black Ferns were respected by other teams.

"People used to go quiet when we walked past. It was like, 'the Black Ferns are here'. I was on the bench a lot and I think probably only played for about four minutes the entire World Cup.

"I ran on and threw one lineout and put a scrum down, and then the hooter sounded. I was just happy to do my time and support the team," she told worldrugby.org.

However, the experience was enough to make her want to achieve again.

"I set my goals pretty high. I knew I wanted to come back and not just get more minutes on the field but to add to the Black Ferns legacy," she said.

By 2006 in Canada it was obvious other countries were picking up their game.

"I got a lot more game time in that World Cup, probably a full game if I put all my minutes together and got a start against my home country Samoa.

"Being a dominant team we had a target on our back and all the other teams were out to bring us down. But we liked that pressure because it pushed us even harder to keep ahead of the other teams in terms of learning new tricks and new game plans.

"It challenged us to step it up another notch," she said.

And that proved enough to beat England 25-17 in their final.

The 2010 World Cup was held in England, and the host team had beaten the Black Ferns the year before so the challenge ahead of the side was obvious.

"There was a lot of talk about how well-resourced they [England] were and how much training they had done, but we weren't too worried about that. We were focused on what we had to do to make sure we were on our game," she said.

Faamausili said the tournament felt bigger and she got to play in her first final, and being against England, there was plenty of support for the home team while the New Zealanders also had to cope with being down to 13 for part of the game.

"Holding the trophy aloft after the final was sweet, sweeter than the previous two because I felt I had fully contributed to it," she said.

France in 2014 was to be a different story for the side as a 20-match unbeaten run was ended in a pool defeat by Ireland, leaving the side to finish fifth.

"It was my first World Cup as captain and we went into the tournament confident that we'd put the win in and had the right team to do well," she said.

However, there had been a marked improvement by the other sides with Canada making an impact.

"In the game against Ireland it just felt that we were on 'D' the whole time. They'd clearly done their homework on us and came out to play. They were really physical and took it to us up front and were the better team on the day," she said.

But missing the semifinals was tough, especially when learning that a draw between England and Canada had left no way for New Zealand to make the last four.

Faamausili said she had been doing media work and no-one had told her.

"All I had in my head was that if we won the game by four or more tries, we'd be through, and that's how it went. I was jumping up and down at the end thinking we'd done enough and it was only when someone from the media came up to me and said, 'How did it feel going into that game knowing you' already been knocked out?' I think I said, 'That sucks'. I was stunned," she said.