Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens says next year's first transtasman league test in Canberra will be the "first step" towards 2013 World Cup selection.
It will kick off a big year for league, with the Cup in Britain, Ireland and France in October and November.
Sheens said he expected the lure for players of competing in the Cup would make the Canberra test one to remember, as the Kangaroos ramped up their campaign to win back the trophy from the Kiwis.
"Every player who wants to be part of the World Cup squad will be aiming to play in this test and perform well, and that should make for a great contest," he said yesterday. "There's no doubt a good performance always sticks in the mind, not only of myself as coach, but also the selectors. We need to win the game and we need to play well. And I think that's the first step towards World Cup selection."
Kiwis assistant coach Tony Iro said his team still had some improvements to make before they would be capable of beating the Kangaroos, but said they would "definitely" be paying attention to Sonny Bill Williams' return to league early next year.
"We're really excited about him coming back to the game," he said.
"But after his boxing and after he gets settled back into the NRL, then we can establish whether he is ready.
"Sonny is an experienced guy now, so he'll know himself, but he is definitely in our plans."
Test and Queensland star David Shillington said playing the Kiwis was comparable to State of Origin.
"Every game is tough ... the Kiwi forward pack is massive and like I said, they always play aggressively," Shillington said.