Rugby World Cup
New Zealand and Australia go head-to-head looking to win a third World Cup.Getty Images

New Zealand and Australia, the great southern hemisphere rivals, do battle with each looking to win their third Rugby World Cup at Twickenham.

Where to watch

New Zealand vs Australia kicks off at 8pm GMT on Saturday 31 October. Live coverage is available on ITV HD and BBC Radio 5 Live.

Preview

Following a record-breaking Rugby World Cup for all the right reasons, the competition has a final fitting of the six weeks that has gone before. Drama, controversy and excitement has stalked the tournament from the very first game and those three themes are expected to be key components of a final duel that ties together the two most dominant teams in world rugby.

Though South Africa and Argentina may protest, New Zealand and Australia are undoubtedly the top two rugby nations on the planet. Unbeaten through the pool stage and knockout rounds, their collision for a 155th time at Twickenham is an appropriate climax to the showcase competition and has all the ingredients to be the greatest final in history.

The All Blacks are chasing a deluge of history. The first team to defend the World Cup and a first victory on foreign soil await Steve Hansen's team, feats that combined will make their claim as the finest international sporting institution around embarrassingly undeniable. Captain Richie McCaw and fly-half Dan Carter are among those players for whom the game represents their final bow in a New Zealand jersey; their careers deserve a heroic send-off.

Dan Carter and Richie McCaw
Will Carter and McCaw end their international careers in the grand manner?Getty Images

For the Wallabies, they have transformed from post-pool stage favourites to potential party poopers in the space of a fortnight. The nerves frayed in the wins over Scotland and Argentina means they are damaged goods heading into the final but they possess all the attributes needed to stage what would now be considered an almighty upset.

One victory for Australia in the last 12 tests might read like an ominous form guide for Michael Cheika's side but the reality is the Rugby Championship securing win in Sydney in August – one of only three defeats suffered by New Zealand since winning the World Cup in 2011 – provided enough to suggest they can produce when it matters. Hansen's side might have bounced back with vengeance a week later but they have been warned.

The backrow axis of David Pocock and Michael Hooper will be given a rigorous test of their reputation as breakdown specialists, while Bernard Foley must back up a tournament where his nerve has been continually examined. The reigning champions are regarded as the most ferocious team in history in the ruck, but can McCaw, Jerome Kaino and Kieran Read rouse themselves one last time?

Rugby World Cup 2015: New Zealand vs Australia previewIBTimes UK

Teams

New Zealand: 15. Ben Smith, 14. Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13. Conrad Smith, 12. Ma'a Nonu, 11. Julian Savea, 10. Daniel Carter, 9. Aaron Smith; 1. Joe Moody, 2. Dane Coles, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Brodie Retallick, 5. Sam Whitelock, 6. Jerome Kaino, 7. Richie McCaw, 8. Kieran Read.

Replacements: 16. Adriaan Strauss, 17. Trevor Nyakane, 18. Jannie du Plessis, 19. Lodewyk de Jager, 20. Willem Alberts, 21. Rudy Paige, 22. Pat Lambie, 23. Jan Serfontein.

Australia: 15. Israel Folau, 14. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Matt Giteau, 11. Drew Mitchell, 10. Bernard Foley, 9. Will Genia; 1. Scott Sio, 2. Stephen Moore, 3. Sekope Kepu, 4. Kane Douglas, 5. Rob Simmons, 6. Scott Fardy, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. David Pocock.

Replacements: 16. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17. James Slipper, 18. Greg Holmes, 19. Dean Mumm, 20. Ben McCalman, 21. Nick Phipps, 22. Matt Toomua, 23. Kurtley Beale.

David Pocock and Michael Hooper
Pocock and Hooper are key for Australia in the breakdown battleGetty Images

What the coaches say

Steve Hansen: "We wanted to get some stability. We came to this tournament and wanted to get to the business end of tournament pretty solid on our selection. We have had limited injuries so we have been very lucky. It doesn't matter what you do in life, experience is massive. When you have got experience and that experience is in good form that is a massive advantage.

"It is a feeling of humbleness and being grateful. It comes with a lot of responsibility and you don't want to let them down. It is quite daunting because you are expected to win all the time. Once you realise it is there, it is a great place to be. There is not a better team for me to be part of. I will be forever grateful to my family for giving me the time to do it. And to New Zealand."

Michael Cheika: "For me personally, it's been a very interesting journey since I've been involved in this team. It puts things into a certain perspective. All we've tried to do is show we're not all guys who are camped out by the billabong with a cork hat. We're different people that come together to make our lives better.

"We've had a lot of messages from a lot of people about how proud they are and everything like that. And I'll be honest; a lot of it we don't want to let in because we don't want to be proud just to make the final. That's too comfortable, that's too easy.

"We want to be proud of what we do on Saturday and make Australians even more proud of us, by giving everything we've got on Saturday. We want to make sure we play in a way that they wake up in the middle of the night or if they're over here, they can nod their head and say 'I'm proud to be a part of that team'."