Andrew Triggs Hodge MBE and Peter Reed MBE met each other in 2005 when they trained and fought their way to victory in a two-boat race. They were part of the Oxford crew that triumphed over rivals Cambridge in that most British sporting tradition - the university boat race at Henley ,on the Thames.

In a fortnight's time they look set to race another significant two-boat race against New Zealanders Eric Murray and Hamish Bond in the men's pair final at the world championships on Lake Karapiro. They are the standout crews in their boat class.

The careers of Triggs Hodge (31) and Reed (29) blossomed after the university boat race. They went on to represent Britain in a coxless four that won 27 consecutive international races, including world championships at Gifu (2005) and Dorney Lake (2006).

After a slip up in 2007, they returned to take the Olympic gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, hence the MBEs.

That slip-up is where Bond and Murray come in. They were part of the New Zealand men's four, a boat that had not had any gold medal success since Les O'Connell, Shane O'Brien, Conrad Robertson and Keith Trask blitzed the field at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.

With Carl Meyer and James Dallinger, they ended that British record - beating them in the semifinal at a World Cup in Lucerne. They went on to take out the world championships in Munich when the British limped home fourth.

Since that time there have been crew changes but ultimately these two pairs are in the top echelon of rowing talent.

Winning in Lucerne, albeit in a semifinal, made all the difference to Bond and Murray. It proved the Brits were not invincible. They have proven that since with a 9-0 record against their rivals at a mixture of World Cup, world championship and Henley regattas.

At the latter the Kiwis have swilled Pimms from the Silver Goblets and Nickalls' Challenge Cup inside the official stewards' enclosure for the last two years. However, Bond and Murray may have the advantage now, but the racing is almost always close - plus Reed and Triggs Hodge have already picked up the ultimate prize in rowing, Olympic gold medals. Murray and Bond missed the Beijing fours final.

That is part of the reason they are back together. Bond is still 24, a pup in rowing terms, and Murray has ticked over 28. London is their ultimate aim, but gold on home water is a significant mental springboard.

Murray says he is already nervous about what is touted as the biggest rivalry in world rowing.

"t has been a ding-dong battle but fortunately we've had more ding than dong. I am on edge because it has been so long between racing [the July World Cup in Lucerne was their last competitive outing]. Back in the day [2009] we were motivated by the will to beat people - now it is a fear of losing."

"We've been second fiddle before and it can be a great training whip," Bond added.

Reed says his drive stems from Henley this year. The Kiwis trounced them by five lengths or what is euphemistically called "easily" in Royal Regatta rules. He says sometimes Triggs Hodge can be seen as the laid-back, fun-loving half of the duo whereas he is more regimented - as part of a 10-year commission with the Royal Navy.

That is where he was discovered as a rower of some promise who has since produced the highest recorded human lung capacity of 11.68 litres, almost twice that of the average male.

"Getting rowed down in front of a home crowd [at Henley] was tough. We have put in some quality races, especially as underdogs, plus they have something to lose on their home water - like we did in 2006."

Part of Triggs Hodge's motivation is the legacy surrounding their event. It is the same class in which Britain's rowing knights Sir Steven Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent won back-to-back Olympic titles in 1992 and 1996, on their way to five and four Olympic gold medals respectively.

"Yes, they're icons and were always able to find something other crews could not... when it counted."

Triggs Hodge says: "Our pair has made a step in the last few weeks with our physiology and training. It is part of Jurgen's master plan and I trust him."

Jurgen is coach Jurgen Grobler, the former East German brought across to mentor Britain in 1991. The 64-year-old has the formidable record of coaching an Olympic gold medal crew at every Games he has been to - from 1972 to 2008; nine as East Germany boycotted Los Angeles in 1984. Grobler is returning to watch his charges compete in New Zealand 32 years after attending the original Karapiro championships.

He holds Bond and Murray in high regard: "They are now the leading boat in New Zealand since Mahe [Drysdale] has had his injury problems. But my guys are not giving up nor hiding away. It should be a highlight of the regatta to have that outstanding competition on the course."

Grobler is renowned for a ruthless streak where he will adjust a crew without thought for feelings or sentiment if it means getting it right - and his record proves it. But the British pair seem safe for now.

"Andrew and Peter are our strongest athletes. Being second is a motivation after deciding to move out of the Olympic winning coxless four. I'm just pleased they've asked me to keep coaching them."

Bond says he has responded to coach Dick Tonks' 'Arthur Lydiard' training regime based on "miles build champions". He has read extensively on the topic, notably through books by Redgrave, Lance Armstrong and most recently Michael Phelps. He is taking some important advice from the latter into this regatta.

"For Phelps training is 'putting money in the bank getting ready to make a big withdrawal'. That's where we are at now."

"Racing them [the English] in my first elite year [2006] I was 20. I have matured since then. I'm not a fan of blowing wind up people's arses but Richard has standards and in the back of our minds we know what he does has worked before."

It beats the alternative.

"It is an athlete's worst nightmare to finish a race and wonder whether they could have done more."