Rugby League World Cup Final 2017: The key battles which could decide victory

Jermaine McGillvary v Valentine Holmes (wing)

2017 NRL – Grant Trouville © NRL Photos

They are two of the true stars of this year’s World Cup, and watching Jermaine McGillvary and Valentine Holmes wage war on one another this Saturday will be one of the real highlights of the final. Holmes has perhaps caught the headlines for different reasons to McGillvary, simply through his sheer try-scoring ability. Yet McGillvary has been a revelation in taking the pressure off England’s forwards, as well as crossing for a fair few tries himself.

Luke Gale v Cooper Cronk (scrum-half)

(C) SWPix

There is an argument in some quarters that Luke Gale has been below the levels which saw him win the Man of Steel during this World Cup – but how he will need to be on top form this Saturday. Gale goes head-to-head with perhaps the best scrum-half in the world in Cooper Cronk, and whichever 7’s kicking game proves to be the most superior may well give their side the advantage when it comes to becoming world champions.

Cameron Smith v James Roby (hooker)

Australian captain Cameron Smith

The battle of the best two hookers in the world? At the moment, there can surely not be much doubt about that. Smith, this week named the winner of the Golden Boot award, is undoubtedly the best hooker in world rugby league, but St Helens counterpart James Roby cannot be too far behind. Roby’s speed and inventiveness around the ruck will be crucial to any chance England have of producing a monumental upset in Brisbane this weekend.