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Mclean aims to emulate Wilkinson

Katy Mclean will hope to emulate one of her rugby heroes on Sunday when England's women go for World Cup glory on Sunday.

Like Jonny Wilkinson did in Sydney 11 years ago, Mclean will run out in the final wearing England's number 10 shirt, knowing there is a considerable weight of expectation.

"I would much prefer it, though, if the score isn't that close!" England skipper Mclean told Press Association Sport, reflecting on a dramatic extra-time win against Australia that was secured by Wilkinson's famous late drop-goal.

"Jonny is definitely someone who has been a hero for me. He made that 10 shirt his own in terms of his work and his ethics, which are things you can only admire."

England will face Canada - a team they drew 13-13 with in the pool stages barely a week ago - in the Paris final.

And the showdown arrives just five days after Mclean and company moved into top gear by demolishing semi-final opponents Ireland, who lit up the tournament with their earlier victory over women's rugby giants New Zealand.

There is also motivation provided by England losing the last three World Cup finals - all to New Zealand - with Mclean among a group of survivors from a painful 13-10 loss in London four years ago.

"It is amazing to think that tomorrow actually is World Cup final day. This journey started four years ago, and now it's really here," added Mclean, a primary schoolteacher in Sunderland.

"You come into a World Cup and you don't want to peak in game one. It's a five-game tournament.

"The Canada game in the pool wasn't great for us, but when we get it right, when we focus and get our processes right, we've shown the damage we can do.

"It was great to get that kind of performance in a semi-final against a very good Ireland side.

"I don't know if it has happened before if the finalists have been two teams out of the same group. We didn't execute in the pool game against Canada - we made a lot of errors - but we also know how good Canada are when they get their game right.

"We are in a really good place as a squad. We have learnt a lot during the past four years since the last World Cup. You ask any great side, and you have got to have those knockdowns. It is what you do about them.

"Tomorrow is about delivering a performance that we know we have inside us. We are such a tight-knit group, players and staff, and that has got us to this point.

"It has been absolutely amazing the support we've had. It is unbelievable. Twitter has gone mental with the support we are getting, and it it has all given the squad such a massive lift.

"I don't think I have a word to describe what it would mean if we win tomorrow."

England coach Gary Street has made two changes for the game, recalling Lichfield scrum-half Natasha Hunt and Wasps flanker Marlie Packer following victory over Ireland.

Full-back Danielle Waterman and prop Rochelle Clark, meanwhile, will each make their third World Cup final appearances.

"It was immensely tough to select this team," Street said.

"We have 26 players fit and everyone is in a really good place freshness-wise, so it was a very tough call. With one game to go, it is always going to be very tough on those not selected.

"Playing Canada in the pool stages, although it was very tough, it was as it turned out, very useful.

"They really brought their A game to that match, and we didn't perform as we wanted to. However, the errors that we made then we have learnt from and we showed that in our performance against Ireland.

"Rugby World Cup finals are obviously very special, but we are genuinely just thinking about playing Canada as just another game. We have to."

Team: D Waterman (Bristol); K Merchant (Worcester), E Scarratt (Lichfield), R Burford (Thurrock), K Wilson (Bristol); K McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, capt), N Hunt (Lichfield); R Clark (Worcester), V Fleetwood (Lichfield), S Hemming (Bristol), T Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), J McGilchrist (Wasps), M Packer (Wasps), M Alphonsi (Saracens), S Hunter (Lichfield).

Replacements: E Croker (Richmond), L Keates (Worcester), R Essex (Richmond), A Matthews (Richmond), L Mason (Wasps), C Large (Worcester), C Allan (Richmond).

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