Grant excited by Kiwis showdown with Smith

Australia's Harry Grant is relishing the chance to square up to long-term Melbourne teammate Brandon Smith in this weekend's World Cup semi-final with New Zealand.

But the hooker is just praying they do not get too close.

"Hopefully he doesn't open his mouth with his stink breath," Grant joked ahead of Friday's (Saturday AEDT) meeting with the Kiwis at Elland Road in Leeds.

Australia and New Zealand have not played each other since 2019 and in that time Grant and Smith have risen through the ranks at the Storm to become the No.1 hookers for their respective countries.

Both were waiting for Cameron Smith to retire to become Melbourne's new No.9, with Grant forced to go on loan to the Wests Tigers to get the edge.

Grant maintains there is strong bond between the pair despite his rise to become the Storm's long-term hooker forcing Smith to leave for the Sydney Roosters.

"We're great mates," Grant said.

"In the NRL, you have to chase opportunities that you get and he's got a great opportunity for himself and his family.

"No one can hold anything against him (given) what he's done for me as well as the Melbourne Storm as a club.

"Me and Brandon are pretty easygoing, we were happy to wait our time. I wish he was still at the Storm."

Grant predicted he would be subject to some sledging from Smith, saying "let's see what he comes up with" as previous loyalties get put to one side.

Their battle is one of several featuring a Storm connection, and arguably the biggest mismatch of them all is the one involving towering New Zealand forward Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Australian five-eighth Cameron Munster.

Asofa-Solomona has reverted to the back-row in recent weeks and he will likely be tasked with making Munster's night a misery.

"He's a big boy but every team has a lot of big bodies and it's nothing that we're not used to," Grant said.

"I'm not sure which way they'll go, whether it'd be on the edge or through the middle, and they've got a lot of edge players in their team.

"There's a few of them out there - Jesse (Bromwich), he is a big bully.

"But we have got the same in our team. We'll be very focused on the way we want to play this week and not buy into that too much."