Women's Rugby World Cup 2014: England fired up by final failures

England have lost in the final to New Zealand at the past three World Cups
IRB Women's Rugby World Cup
Venue: France Dates: 1-17 August
Coverage: Reports and updates on BBC Sport website, BBC Sport app and BBC Radio 5 live; live text commentary on later stages; live coverage on Sky

England will use the pain of successive Women's Rugby World Cup final defeats to spur them to victory in the 2014 tournament, says hooker Emma Croker.

Croker, who had a baby after their 2010 defeat by New Zealand, is one of 16 in the squad back for another title tilt.

"It spurs you on in those deep, darkest moments, thinking 'we are going there to win that World Cup this summer'", Croker, 31, told BBC Sport.

England face Samoa on Friday, the opening day of the World Cup in France.

England Women RWC record
2010Finalists - lost 13-10 to NZ
2006Finalists - lost 25-17 to NZ
2002Finalists - lost 19-9 to NZ
1998Third - lost 44-11 to NZ in semis
1994Winners - beat USA 38-23
1991Finalists - lost 19-6 to USA

Eleven of England's starting side from the 2010 final defeat are among the current 26-strong squad, while five players - Maggie Alphonsi, Rachel Burford, Tamara Taylor, Danielle Waterman and Rochelle Clark - hope it will be third time lucky after also playing in 2006, the second of three successive World Cup final defeats by New Zealand.

Wales also start their campaign on Friday - against hosts France - while Ireland tackle the United States and the defending champions face Kazakhstan.

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Women's Rugby World Cup 2014: England mum aims for glory

Chelmsford-born Croker played in every game of the 2010 tournament, but decided to take a break from the sport afterwards to start a family with husband James.

Then 27, the Richmond hooker wanted to return to action as soon as possible, but the birth of her daughter Lucy did not go according to plan.

"Up to seven months I was fine, although frustrated because I couldn't play any rugby," she said.

"But then I started to put on a bit of fluid and found out I was pre-eclampsic [a potentially serious complication in pregnancy]. I got rushed in and had an emergency C-section.

"Lucy was three weeks early. Obviously it wasn't ideal for my rugby, but to be honest, at that moment I just wanted my baby to be OK.

"The moment they give you your daughter and she is healthy and you hear her cry, is just the most amazing moment ever."

Croker's daughter Lucy accompanied her on to the pitch when she won her 50th cap

As soon as she was cleared to resume training, Emma threw herself back into rugby and, four months later, was back playing for her club Richmond. A month after that, she was in the England side selected for the European Championships.

"One day I was pregnant," she said, "the next I'm on the field. I think being a mum makes you more focused. I used to think I trained 110% but I know now that I didn't. Now I am much more intense because every minute in the gym is time away from Lucy."

Her daughter joined her on the pitch when she won her 50th cap against Wales in this year's Six Nations Championship.

"To win 50 caps for your country is something you dream of as a little girl," Croker said. "But to be able to do it in front of your home crowd, with all your friends and family there, and to run out with my daughter, was just amazing. She did so well - she's only little, and she made it all the way across the pitch."

Daughter Lucy will be England's mini mascot in Paris.

Croker added: "My mum and husband are coming out to watch the whole tournament and Lucy will be with them. She will be at every match. She has her own ticket and her England kit - she is ready to go."

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