Farah Palmer: Black Ferns will go all the way at World Cup
Once a Black Fern always a Black Fern is the call from an emotional Farah Palmer ahead of the New Zealand's World Cup semifinal against the USA.
The former Black Ferns captain says she has been riding every moment with the team this World Cup campaign, even to the point of tears.
Palmer knows what it feels like to be so close to becoming a women's rugby world champion and luckily she never had to miss out on that eventual feeling, being part of the 1998, 2002 and 2006 world champion Black Ferns.
"I'm living it every game over there on the couch. I'm totally engrossed in the whole thing.
"I had tears in my eyes when the big moment of Fiao'o [Faamausili] marking her 50th test match last week. I've sent her and the team my best."
Black Ferns head coach Glenn Moore has named an unchanged starting team for the semifinal in Belfast, the two changes on the bench seeing Aleisha Nelson come in as prop cover and Lesley Ketu to cover in the loose forwards.
New Zealand have eased through their pool play beating Wales, Hong Kong and Canada with scores of 44-12, 121-0 and 48-5 respectively.
But Palmer is taking nothing for granted after seeing the Black Ferns fail to bring home the prize in 2014, when Ireland knocked them out before the playoffs to leave the pickings to current world champions England.
"Definitely when they lost the last World Cup, I was really gutted and in tears. I don't know, but there is something about being a Black Fern that never really leaves you, it is part of who you are."
Palmer is under no illusion that she wouldn't make the squad of today and said the women's game had progressed significantly since her last match in 2006.
"I hope I wouldn't [make the team] and I hope women's rugby has improved and it has. The passing is sharp, the kicking game has improved and they're just harder."
While Palmer is wary of the speedy USA side the Black Ferns will face on Wednesday morning (NZT), she can't help but get ahead of herself and predict a New Zealand/England final on Sunday morning.
England beat the Black Ferns in June at home during a test series including Australia and Canada.
"It is going to be a huge battle, everyone suggests they [England] have the upper hand because of their results over here. But if we bring our A game, it's going to be challenging."
"If we go in with that no prisoners attitude we have, we will do it.
"I'll be up wearing an old jersey and pair of shorts."
Moore said their careful planning had paid off to this point of the tournament.
"As a result the players have recovered well and are upbeat. Their level of focus both on and off the field is impressive and we're excited by the challenge in front of us.
"USA proved a handful in the second half for England because they have genuine pace on the edges. We expect them to throw everything at us, and when they have the ball they will be very quick."
The Black Ferns will wear black armbands during the match to honour rugby legend Sir Colin Meads who passed away at the weekend.
AT A GLANCE
What: New Zealand v USA, World Cup semifinal
Where: Belfast, Ireland
When: Wednesday, 4am (NZ time)
New Zealand: Selica Winiata, Portia Woodman, Stacey Waaka, Kelly Brazier, Renee Wickliffe, Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali, Kendra Cocksedge, Aroha Savage, Sarah Goss, Charmaine McMenamin, Charmaine Smith, Eloise Blackwell, Aldora Itunu, Fiao'o Faamausili (c), Toka Natua. Reserves: Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, Sosoli Talawadua, Aotearoa Mata'u, Rebecca Wood, Linda Itunu, Kristina Sue, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Carla Hohepa