Greyhound racing has the lure - the mechanised rabbit which shoots into the distance for the dogs to chase.

The New Zealand rowing team have Rebecca Scown and Emma-Jane Feathery.

The New Zealand women's pair have been used in internal crew racing, with every boat trying to catch them before they complete the specified training distance.

That varies between 2km and 11km, depending on the coaches.

That's cited as the main reason they have won each of their four World Cup races this season - two heats and two finals at Munich and Lucerne.

The only time they've been behind any crew was 500m into the opening heat in Germany, and that was by just a second.

It makes them favourites for the world championship in Poznan, Poland, exactly one Olympic cycle after Juliette Haigh and Nicky Coles won the title in Gifu, Japan.

Feathery, 24, says it helps they know how pressure feels.

"In the scheme of things, the women's pair is one of the slowest boats, it takes longer for us to do 2k than others, so we've got the likes of Mahe Drysdale, Emma Twigg and the men's pair chasing us. We've learned to move off fast and keep them at bay as long as possible. We've taken that into racing as well. It's so much easier to hold off competitors coming towards you than having to row through them."

The pair emerged from the unsuccessful New Zealand eight that failed to qualify for the Olympics after three years together - Scown was part of the crew from 2006, while Feathery joined in 2007.

Scown, 25, a first cousin of former single sculling Olympian Sonia Waddell, says they always held reasonable expectations for the season, despite a lack of fanfare compared to that for the more established crews.

"We've been in the system a while so have that base fitness and an accumulation of experience which has led to the World Cup successes."

What's also helped is being on a similar footing to their competitors who, like them, are mostly new combinations. As a benchmark, they've beaten the British who finished sixth behind Haigh and Coles in the Olympic final, as well as the two American pairs, from whom three rowers helped make up the US Beijing gold medal-winning eight.

The pair's coach is John Robinson, their mentor in last year's women's eight.

He coached the men's pair of George Bridgewater and Nathan Twaddle to three world championship medals.

"They're aggressive in the boat, especially Rebecca as stroke," says Robinson. "They attack each race, which is a difference to Haigh and Coles. They were more-or-less slow starters who came through from the 1000m mark. If anyone wants to get past these two [Scown and Feathery], they have to work."

Coles has since retired to become a Canterbury club and schools coach. The 37-year-old says the new pair are benefitting from the internal racing of the national regime, which in turn will make it harder for Haigh to regain her seat after a year's sabbatical in England.

"You end up being devastated if you're not in the top three of those training races, it's so motivating, cut-throat and competitive. If Emma and Rebecca do well at the world championships, I think they should probably keep their seats. I would say the next boat with seats up for grabs will instead be the double or quadruple sculls."

Coles says that may well suit Haigh. "Jools has still been training hard, learning how to scull at the top level, that's been her goal, just taking a year out of competition to come back refreshed."

Haigh was knocked out of the semifinals in the single sculls at Henley last month, an event Emma Twigg won. But her plans are a distant concern for Scown at present.

"There's always going to be people wanting seats and Juliette's recently been doing a lot of sculling, which is an option she might want to pursue. It's also often about the combination rather than individual athletes."

For the next few weeks, though, the focus is 724m above sea level on Lake Aegeri in Switzerland during the team's build-up to the world championships from August 23-30.