2013 Rugby League World Cup final: Australia v New Zealand - Key Battles
Last Updated: 28/11/13 4:42pm
The 2013 Rugby League World Cup final promises to be one of the most exciting ever. We break down where the match could be won and lost between holders New Zealand and red-hot Australia.
Greg Bird v Sonny Bill Williams
A contrast in styles between two of the game's leading back-row forwards. The tough-tackling, no-nonsense Bird will make it his mission to keep a tight rein on the ball-handling skills of former All Black Williams, who was this week crowned international player of the year. Williams is the full package, able to combine devastating forceful running with freakish offloads that make him the Kiwis' major attacking weapon.
Cameron Smith v Issac Luke
Two more players with contrasting styles but of equal importance to their team's bid for glory. Australia's Smith is the graceful ball-distributing hooker with a shrewd rugby brain who varies his game wonderfully well to keep the opposition guessing. Luke, on the other hand, is hugely predictable but stopping his lightning breaks from dummy half is far from straight forward. Deceptively strong, he has been the form hooker of the tournament.
Cooper Cronk v Shaun Johnson
The battle between the two men who pull the strings for their teams will go a long way to determining the outcome of the final. Cronk is a tough Australia half-back who possesses arguably the best kicking game in rugby league and combines uncannily superbly with his Melbourne team-mates Cameron Smith and Billy Slater. Johnson, who has already gone a long way towards filling the boots of Benji Marshall, had his worst game of the tournament in New Zealand's win against England but still managed to come up with the match-winning try.
Brett Morris v Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Tries will ultimately decide the destination of this year's trophy and these two wingers have been two of the more prolific try-scorers throughout the tournament. Morris scored one in last weekend's 64-0 thumping of Fiji although he bagged four in their quarter-final romp over the United States. Tuivasa-Sheck has been equally as lethal with the try line at his mercy. The 20-year-old Samoa-born centre has been superb for the Kiwis. He helped himself to a well-taken brace at Wembley last Saturday in New Zealand's last-gasp 20-18 triumph over England.