Proud Maori Cherrington relishes NZ clash

As a proud Maori, Australia forward Kennedy Cherrington is anticipating a mix of emotions when she faces the haka in the Jillaroos' final Women's Rugby League World Cup group game against New Zealand.

Cherrington's decision to represent her birthplace of Australia over her ancestral homeland of New Zealand did not go down quite as she had anticipated.

The Parramatta prop was met with what she describes as "back-handed compliments" from members of her own family, as well as some blowback online.

Cherrington has previously represented the Maori All Stars and as recently as June this year the Kiwi Ferns attempted to persuade her to play for New Zealand.

But the 23-year-old said her mind was made up a long time before Thursday's (Friday AEDT) meeting with New Zealand in York.

"My identity has been questioned over the last few weeks but I stand firm on this decision: I'm Australian-Maori," the Sydney-born forward told AAP.

"Australia is where I was born and this country gave me and my parents an opportunity, so it was a no-brainer for me.

"I want to give it my all in this game. I am a proud Australian with Maori blood.

"Being a Jillaroos player has been what I've wanted to do since I was little."

Cherrington claimed the opportunity to face the haka would be particularly special.

"I'm going to be emotional but it's going to ignite a fire in me," she said.

The game with New Zealand represents Australia's first true test of the tournament after beating France 92-0 and the Cook Islands 74-0 to qualify for the semi-finals.

Cherrington anticipates a hostile reception from those in black.

"We know we have a target on our backs," she said.

"I know all the girls are looking forward to it, it's the Pacific version of State of Origin.

"It's going to be really physical but when push comes to shove we will be able to go the distance."