Rugby League World Cup final: Australia and New Zealand ready
Rugby League World Cup final
- Venue: Old Trafford
- Date: Saturday, 30 November
- Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One from 13:45 GMT and Radio 5 live sports extra from 14:30 GMT; live text commentary on BBC Sport website from 13:30 GMT
Coach Stephen Kearney believes New Zealand can pull off another surprise result against Australia in the World Cup final at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The Kiwis shocked the Kangaroos, who have lifted the trophy nine times, with a 34-20 win in Brisbane in 2008.
Kearney said: "We start as underdogs, but the lads are confident that, if they can bring their best performance, we give ourselves a great opportunity."
New Zealand's Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Australia's Billy Slater both start.
New Zealand's route to final
New Zealand 42-24 Samoa (Pool)
New Zealand 48-0 France (Pool)
New Zealand 56-10 Papua New Guinea (Pool)
New Zealand 40-4 Scotland (Quarter-final)
New Zealand 20-18 England (Semi-final)
Winger Tuivasa-Sheck, who scored two tries in the Kiwis' 20-18 semi-final win over England, has been passed fit after a lower-leg injury, while Slater has been named at full-back but is still recovering from a knee injury aggravated against USA.
Both sides boast 100% records heading into the encounter but Australia have not conceded a try since Josh Charnley's effort in their first pool match against England on the opening day.
Aussie winger Jarryd Hayne is the competition's top try scorer with nine, closely followed by Tuivasa-Sheck with eight.
But it is recently named Rugby League International Federation player of the year Sonny Bill Williams who has attracted the most interest in the tournament so far.
The Kiwi - with a tournament high 17 offloads - has the chance of becoming the first player to win the World Cup in both rugby league and rugby union after triumphing with the All Blacks in 2011.
"I'd give every award back in a heartbeat just to get across the line this weekend," said Williams.
Australia coach Tim Sheens feels Williams' presence is positive for the coverage of the sport.
"It's good for our game and for our code around the world because he's known over here and I think he's well known as a rugby player in France too," said Sheens.
"I love the game as a game and love to see it played around the world and well respected so players like that are great to have around."
Australia playmaker Johnathan Thurston goes into the match needing just six points to break fellow countryman Mick Cronin's 31-year record of 309 international points.
"It's going to be a memory the boys are never going to forget," he said. "It's giving me goose bumps just thinking about it."
Australia's route to final
Australia 28-20 England (Pool)
Australia 34-2 Fiji (Pool)
Australia 50-0 Ireland (Pool)
Australia 62-0 USA (Quarter-final)
Australia 64-0 Fiji (Semi-final)
Organisers for the competition announced on Friday that the Old Trafford clash was a sell-out.
It means the game will be the best attended international rugby league match of all time and both New Zealand and Australia will play in front of their biggest-ever crowds.
Kiwi captain Simon Mannering, who played in the final in 2008, is hoping to receive the backing of the crowd in Manchester.
"We haven't had a lot of support from the English throughout the tournament but that's understandable given the teams we've been playing," he said.
"It's the first time for a lot of the guys and it's a pretty cool ground. It will probably be the only chance a lot of us get to play here."
Australia team: B Slater (Melbourne); B Morris (St George Illawarra), J Hayne (Parramatta), G Inglis (South Sydney), D Boyd (Newcastle); J Thurston (North Queensland), C Cronk (Melbourne); M Scott (North Queensland), C Smith (Melbourne, capt), J Tamou (North Queensland), G Bird (Gold Coast), S Thaiday (Brisbane), P Gallen (Cronulla).
Replacements: D Cherry-Evans (Manly), A Fifita (Cronulla), C Parker (Brisbane), J Papalii (Canberra) or B Tate (North Queensland).
New Zealand team: K Locke (NZ Warriors); R Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters), D Whare (Penrith), B Goodwin (South Sydney), M Vatuvei (NZ Warriors); K Foran (Manly), S Johnson (NZ Warriors); J Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters), I Luke (South Sydney), J Bromwich (Melbourne), S Mannnering (NZ Warriors, capt), S B Williams (Sydney Roosters), E Taylor (NZ Warriors).
Replacements: A Glenn (Brisbane), S Kasiano (Canterbury Bulldogs), B Matulino, F-P Nu'uausala (Sydney Roosters).
Referee: R Silverwood (England).