Expect emotions to boil over from the realms of sublime to ridiculousness this weekend in the high octane-fuelled sporting arena in the southern hemisphere.

No it's nothing as farcical as the All Blacks playing the Kangaroos in a $50 million match of cross codes - five-tackle counts or lineouts and mauls - but more a case of madness in the face of overwhelming evidence.

But in lunacy often lies an invigorating tonic. Maybe fanatical fans feel fits of madness will somehow steer them to the road of reason.

At 3.30pm remote-control toting sport tragics will seize the moment in deciding whether they want to watch the All Whites soccer team trying to do the impossible against Peru at the Cake Tin in Wellington from 4.15pm on Skysport 1 today or flick to Skysport 2 for the much-anticipated Kiwis v Tonga Rugby League World Cup match in Hamilton from 5pm.


Maybe they can flick between the two or, as the prudent will, tape one and watch the other although it makes one wonder why codes don't give more thought to scheduling marquee events.

In 45 minutes, one would like to think, hardcore sport fans will have a good idea of whether it's just a pipe dream for the All Whites.

But herein lies the beauty of sport, which tends to offer a licence to madness. It hardly matters that the All Whites are ranked 122 in Fifa's world standings compared to No 10 Peru.

That is why there's sometimes method to madness in sport despite the gargantuan odds.

The Anthony Hudson-coached New Zealanders will be praying the capital city will turn on its grotty weather for the South American favourites who are already feeling the chill as they embark on a lucrative $1 billion Fifa World Cup campaign in Russia.

Standing in their way is a team who receive an easier ride to the pivotal World Cup qualifying game than senior citizens in possession of Gold Cards in New Zealand.

The All Whites haven't beaten a nation outside the cash-strapped South Pacific pool for two years while the Peruvians are coming off playing the likes of Argentina, Chile and Colombia.

Hudson has rolled out a few blasts from the past, such as Rory Fallon and Shane Smeltz, but it'll take more than that to do the unthinkable.

No doubt, if the All Whites fail to qualify - never mind trying to do the impossible in the away leg in Peru on Thursday in a 9.15pm kick-off - it'll again raise the question of why New Zealand aren't following the path of Australia in the build-up and preparation of playing in the world's biggest and richest stage for team sport.

As for the other suitors, basketball scores have predominantly prevailed in what is in reality an obscenely inflated economy in the Rugby League World Cup so far.

When coaches from teams such as the Kiwis, Fiji, Tonga and PNG whip out their white clipboard for a huddle in the hotel conference rooms in the lead-up to the defining pool matches they'll be able to tick off a couple of boxes that transcend any advantages big, mobile men have over smaller ones.

I don't believe all those ticks will be conclusive. What will be categorically sound is the ability of serious playoff contenders to complete their sets of five tackles satisfactorily (80 per cent-plus mark) and the reassurance that certain players are fulfilling their portfolios with aplomb.

The mock exams are over for Kiwis mentor David Kidwell and he can stop pining for Tongan defector Jason Taumalolo once and for all, regardless of who prevails today.
That game, if you're a purist, will offer more flutter with the bookies despite the odds favouring the hosts over the perennial Pacific Island underdogs.

Again, whatever the outcome rugby league will still be the winner because this World Cup will long be remembered for players who chose culture over nationality to grow a fledgling code.

Fiji, who should have beaten Italy overnight in Canberra, believe they can win the World Cup.

Some of their parochial fans have taken umbrage at assertions from Wales coach John Kear that the island nations won't progress to the final. Their argument stems from what makes Kear an oracle when his troops were on the receiving end of a 72-6 Fijian flogging in Townsville last Sunday.

However, second-tier island nations look great on paper with their NRL artillery but their depth will come under scrutiny when the variables (such as opposition skills, the elements, changes in line-up and referees' interpretations) kick in.

For instance, it's no secret dual international Jarryd Hayne prefers to play fullback for Fiji but coach Mick Potter sees the Gold Coast Titans glamour boy in a playmaker's role.

What isn't transparent is who will assume that mantle of responsibility should Hayne, who more astute teams will try to negate at the business end, roll an ankle or leave the field due to concussion.

His replacement in the last 10 minutes or so, understandably, wasn't a natural progression. In the back of Potter's mind will be the nagging feeling of when can I chuck more playing dough to the fidgeting support crew in the sandpit.

Whether Potter erred in making substitutions too late last Sunday, especially when it became apparent by halftime that the Welshmen are nothing but World Cup whipping boys, remains to be seen.

What pushes the Kangaroos, Kiwis and England to the higher echelons of contention is their depth on the bench.

We got a glimpse of Suliasi Vunivalu's ability to convert tries for Fiji and it's promising but has he had enough time on the field with that?

In the crunch playoff games try and penalty conversions could be the difference between agony and ecstasy. The level of pressure also will mutate considerably considering little is riding on a kick when the game is over by halftime.

The second-tier nations also need to find architects of 20-40 kicks because therein lies a game changer, just as it is for the blokes securing high balls in defence and attack.

The mental fortitude of all teams is imperative. Staying out of silly skirmishes is paramount from the kick-off.

The referees, who weren't shy to offer some sobering advice to players, may not be so understanding when it comes to late charges and tackles especially from Pacific Islanders who enjoy bone-jarring tackles.

Indiscipline weighs down the collective a lot more than head-shaking transgressors often realise and, again, other officials may take a dimmer view of it.