By Jonny Bray
Rugby league legend Rebecca Stevens believes that Vicky Whitfield has the power to help England make history at the 2021 World Cup.
England take on New Zealand in the second of two mouth-watering semi-finals, with Australia coming up against Papua New Guinea in the other game.
No northern hemisphere side has reached the World Cup final since Great Britain at the inaugural tournament in 2000.
Whitfield scored in England's 42-4 victory over Papua New Guinea in Pool A to help fire her side into the semi-finals.
Stevens, who starred for Great Britain during their 1998 tour to New Zealand, believes that the prop can put England on the front foot at York Community Stadium.
"We saw Vicky Whitfield against Papua New Guinea, she was absolutely incredible," said Stevens.
"She really took things forward in the pack, and we are going to need somebody like that against these big Kiwi girls.
"We have obviously got the talent out wide, these women as individuals are really capable of some fantastic things, but they are also gelling really well as a team.
"I have been immensely impressed with Vicky, she is fearless, she is forthright, she takes the ball up and is always making yards.
"She always looks dangerous, and we need someone on her shoulder looking for the offload.
"She is certainly one to watch, and we are certainly going to need someone like her when battling against that New Zealand pack."
New Zealand have won the World Cup three times and have beaten Great Britain/England at each of the last five tournaments.
However, they fell to a 10-8 defeat in a closely-fought contest against Australia in Pool B.
But Stevens feels the defeat could make England's opponents even more dangerous during the semi-final.
She said: "I think that New Zealand will be really determined, that game against Australia was such a fantastic spectacle of women's rugby league.
"It was so closely fought, so I think that New Zealand are really going to feel like they have something to prove.
"They are going to want to take on the Australians again in the final, and they are going to be really determined to win the match.
"England are going to have to step up and show what they have got, but they are capable of it for sure, and I think it will be a fantastic game to watch."
England's game against Canada had a peak audience of 700,000 while their opening game against Brazil attracted the largest attendance for a women’s rugby league game in the northern hemisphere with 8,621 people.
And Stevens has been delighted to see fans become so invested in the tournament.
She added: "I have been really impressed by the tournament.
"The development of the women's game has been such a wonderful thing to see.
"The crowds that we are getting at the tournaments have been great, and the viewing figures have just been incredible.
"To think that it will grow the game is fantastic and no doubt that has been helped by the funding from The National Lottery."
The National Lottery are an Official Partner of the Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021). As part of this, they have provided financial support to clubs & communities across England through the RLWC2021 CreatedBy Grants Programme, contributing over £750,000.