World Cup hopefuls on show for NRL decider
International selectors will be paying close attention to the final of Australia's National Rugby League (NRL) season between Sydney Roosters and the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles on Sunday.
Among the 34 players who will take the field in the decider at the Sydney Olympic Stadium are representatives from a number of countries playing in this year's World Cup, which starts in Cardiff on Oct. 26.
Australia's World Cup squad is set to be named on the Monday following the final and while a strong showing could help secure a spot in that squad, Manly coach Geoff Toovey said the world tournament would not be on the minds of his players.
"Not at all, I think they know that there's a job at hand," Toovey said this week. "The better they go on Sunday, the more chance they are of being selected, so we're just focused on the grand final."
Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves missed out on selection for world champions New Zealand at the end of last season, but used the time away from national duties to begin his 2013 preparations.
The move has seen him produce a strong year that will likely earn him a return to the Kiwis squad win or lose on Sunday.
"I was pretty keen to rip into some training, I started pretty early," Warea-Hargreaves told reporters in Sydney.
"That was a big key for myself, was to lay the platform and try and get some good training under my belt which I think was one of the main factors."
Arguably one of the most successful clubs in the past decade, Sunday will see Manly line up in the final for the fourth time in seven seasons, having won two titles in 2008 and 2011.
The Roosters, one of the league's oldest clubs, have been the strongest team in the competition this year finishing the regular season at the top of the table for the 17th time.
They will play in the final for the first time since 2010, where they lost to St George-Illawarra, when head coach Trent Robinson was an assistant at the eastern-Sydney club.
"It taught a lot of the guys about a different style of footy - the reason we got to the grand final was because of that style," Robinson said of what lessons his side had learned from 2010.
"It was a great year and a great success for the club, but there's some lessons learned there as well."