How the Rugby League World Cup will be won

KEY QUESTIONS TO DECIDE THE WORLD CUP FINAL

WHO WILL WIN THE BATTLE OF CLEARY AND LUAI?

Mates since the age of 15, Australian halfback Nathan Cleary and Penrith five-eighth Jarome Luai have not played against each other in the best part of a decade. Luai is the beating heart of this Samoan side and if Australia can silence him, they can stop them. Cleary has had his wobbles on this tour, but playing against Luai should bring out his best. His kicking will be key to Australia's chances.

CAN CRICHTON TAME MITCHELL?

Stephen Crichton was the hero in Samoa's semi-final win over England, kicking the winning field-goal and scoring two tries. But the 22-year-old Penrith flyer now faces a markedly different proposition in the shape of Latrell Mitchell. The South Sydney star has yet to fire a shot at this tournament but is know for coming to the fore when it matters most.

CAN SUAALII DELIVER?

It's a big ask for a 19-year-old but every indication is that Joseph Suaalii is ready to signal his arrival on the international stage. The Sydney Roosters prodigy has been given very few chances to play at fullback until this tournament but has got better with every game. Australia will make life difficult for the teenager in what shapes as the biggest game of his career against his long-term mentor James Tedesco.

DOES SIZE MATTER IN THE MIDDLE?

Australia have opted for a more durable forward pack than the Samoan team. That should give them an advantage in the first six-again era World Cup final. But Old Trafford threatens to be rain-soaked and that could play into Samoa's hands with the likes of Josh Papalii, Junior Paulo and Royce Hunt packing a punch that could challenge the Kangaroos' lighter middle forwards.

HOW WILL CHT STAND UP TO AUSTRALIA?

Chanel Harris-Tavita isn't a hooker by trade but his selection there in his final game before taking a hiatus is the biggest test of his career. Harris-Tavita will have been singled out by Australia as a weak link because of his lack of experience there. Nu Brown and Danny Levi were both ruled out of the final. Expect the Kangaroos forwards to try and work Harris-Tavita over in defence in the middle.