It took just three months for Kiwi women's pair Rebecca Scown and Juliette Haigh to work their way to the top of the podium - now they face an even tougher challenge: remaining there.

After winning two World Cup regattas in July just three months after teaming up together, the pair suddenly find themselves being the "hunted ones" at the world championships in Karapiro.

It's always tough when you're the crew the others are out to get, but a couple of injury speedbumps have made it even tougher.

Scown and Haigh have only been rowing together since March, when they were selected for the pair.

Haigh, who along with Nicky Coles picked up gold in the 2005 World Championships, had much of last season off after taking some time away from the sport following a disappointing sixth placing at the Beijing Olympics.

She ended up holidaying in England, but inevitably Haigh gravitated back to rowing and began training again.

When she returned last September, Haigh had a tilt at sculling, which was the only rowing she did while in England, but didn't have enough time to fully get to grips with the requirements of the double oar discipline.

In any case, she believes sweep oar rowing is where her talents lie. Last summer the national selectors assessed different combinations before settling on her and Rebecca Scown as their first choice.

After a few months of full-on training together, the pair set off for Europe and were pleasantly surprised with the results.

They won both their outings on the World Cup circuit in Lucerne and Munich, winning each time by a comfortable margin of around five seconds.

"We rowed together in a squad system over summer, so we had an idea that we could go fast, but you never know until you go and race overseas," said Scown.

"We did gel together pretty quickly, it's a pretty natural pairing."

Scown and Haigh returned from Europe at the end of July feeling pretty chuffed about their progress. Things were going well ... almost a little too well.

After returning from Europe, Scown developed tendinitis in her forearm just two days in to training.

Following a routine operation to repair the problem, she developed an infection and was forced to spend a week in Waikato Hospital.

After being off the water for five weeks, Scown was finally given the all-clear to return to full training in late-September - about the same time as the wild weather hit Lake Karapiro.

The timing has been far from ideal. The pair had built some strong momentum in their abbreviated World Cup campaign and were looking forward to building their base fitness ahead of the world championships.

"It was really frustrating, because we were pretty eager to get back in the boat. But I think it's made things a little bit interesting for us," said Scown.

There is a sense the pair now feel like they're starting over from scratch a wee bit.

Three months has passed since Scown and Haigh last faced their rivals and with a fair chunk of that time spent off the water, they are loathe to read too much in to past results this season.

"I think we were quite surprised with how well we went overseas, but it's also been quite a long time since we came back from Europe, so it almost feels like you're starting off a new season a little bit," said Scown.

"Because everyone else is so far away, you also have no idea what everyone else has been doing. We've got no real gauge, we just have to gauge off one another and we know how fast we're going, but we've got no control over what the other crews are doing."

Scown said the US pairing of Zsuzsanna Francia and Erin Cafaro, who won gold at last year's world championships in Poland, are shaping up as their main rivals in the event, with the Canadian and Romanian crews also looking dangerous.

"You always expect every crew to be pulling out their best. But USA won the last world championships, so they'll be one to watch."