New Zealand might not be there and neither are Tonga – but there's still plenty of reasons why Kiwi league fans should get excited about Saturday's World Cup final between Australia and England at Suncorp Stadium.

The result may appear a foregone conclusion with the Kangaroos red hot favourites to retain the title they won in 2013, but history shows this was also the case when they met the Kiwis at the same venue in the 2008 World Cup final only to suffer a historic 34-20 defeat.

And as straight-forward as the result might seem there is plenty of hope that England can cause a similar upset.

England coach Wayne Bennett played a key role throughout that campaign as an assistant to Kiwis head coach Stephen Kearney and intrigue surrounds whether the Broncos master coach can engineer another boil-over this time around.


Such a result would provide a further jolt to an Australian audience generally preoccupied with the NRL and State of Origin and add another strong gust to the winds of change already blowing across international football in the wake of semi-finalists Tonga and Fiji's successful campaigns.

The ease with which the Kangaroos have managed to amass 204 points and concede just 16 in five matches has failed to generate the same level of excitement in Australia to what we experienced in New Zealand, with Tonga drawing sell-out crowds for their shock win over the Kiwis in Hamilton and last week's 20-18 loss to England in Auckland.

England may be a tier one nation but this is their first World Cup final appearance in 22 years and they have struggled for results against the Kiwis and Australians in recent years.

Despite the apparent apathy of Australian fans – evidenced by small attendances across the ditch throughout the tournament - there is a growing appetite there for genuine contests and an England victory would have many reassessing the perceived inferiority of the UK Super League.

Nothing will impact on the status and enormity of the beast that is Origin football, but if Australia were to fall – and we're talking about a team boasting the talents of three of the greatest players of all time in captain Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater – it would come as a huge wake-up call.

The Kangaroos boast the talents of three of the greatest players of all time in Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater. Photo / Photosport
The Kangaroos boast the talents of three of the greatest players of all time in Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater. Photo / Photosport

And while the Kiwis and Tongans have been relegated to mere spectators this weekend, this clash will not lack for intensity or passion.

Australia may have claimed an 18-4 win over England in the tournament opening clash in Melbourne, but their performance was far from convincing and there are concerns the Kangaroos have had it too easy going undefeated while amassing 206 points and conceding just 16 in five matches.

England, on the other hand, are yet to find their best form for 80 minutes but are battle-hardened after two physical quarter and semifinal wins over Papua New Guinea and Tonga.

The pressure is well and truly on the home side - no member of the Kangaroos team has won a World Cup on home soil as only two other Cup finals have been played in Australia – in 1968 when Australia beat France 20-2 and in 1977 when they defeated Great Britain 13-12, with both games played at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

While Kiwi fans may not be too excited about the prospect of cheering for England, they can only hope to revel in Australia suffering what would be a Titanic-sized shock defeat – no matter how close the margin.