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Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Thursday, 19 August 2010 11:27 UK

Claire Purdy & Rebecca Essex eye Rugby World Cup glory

Claire Purdy
Purdy goes into the 2010 World Cup with 19 England caps to her name

Surrey duo Claire Purdy and Rebecca Essex are confident England can reach the 2010 Women's Rugby World Cup final.

England is hosting the tournament for the first time, but both Purdy and Essex dismissed any suggestion playing at home places extra pressure on them.

Essex told BBC Surrey: "There's always pressure when performing, but if we focus on our basics it'll help us win.

"We try not to put the weight of the nation on our shoulders and just play the way we know we can," Purdy added.

England lost to New Zealand in the previous two tournament finals, but Frimley-born Purdy, 30, believes the team has come a long way since Canada 2006.

"We've developed a lot over the last four years," the front row forward said.

"We did well in the Six Nations, we have a lot more experience, and we're hoping we're going to be good enough to get to that final again."

Essex, who works as a primary school teacher in Surrey, thinks England must find a balance between the emotions of playing at home and the technicalities of the game.

"Emotions will be high as it's a World Cup tournament, but the team needs to control those emotions and still bring out the skills needed to perform," the 27-year old said.

Despite growing optimism surrounding the England camp, neither player is getting complacent ahead of Friday's opening game with Ireland.

"In a tournament with the 12 best teams in the world, everyone wants to get to the final so we just have to take it one game at a time," Purdy said.

"We've got three massive pool games to get through first and we're just focusing on that right now," Essex added.

The group matches and play-off games take place at Guildford's Surrey Sports Park, with the semi-finals and final staged at the Twickenham Stoop.

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see also
Women primed for Rugby World Cup
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NZ captain plays down favourites tag
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Here come the girls
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England Women retain Six Nations
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