Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens says next year's first ever trans-Tasman rugby league Test in Canberra will be the "first step" towards 2013 World Cup selection.
The Canberra Test will be the first in a big year for League, with the 2013 World Cup to be held later in the year in the UK, Ireland and France.
Sheens said he expected the lure for players of competing in next year's World Cup would make the Canberra Test one to remember, as the Kangaroos ramped up their campaign to win back the World Cup trophy from the Kiwis.
"Every player who wants to be part of the World Cup squad will be aiming to play in this Test and perform well, and that should make for a great contest," Sheens said on Wednesday.
"There's no doubt a good performance always sticks in the mind, not only of myself as coach, but also the selectors.
"We need to win the game and we need to play well. And I think that's the first step towards World Cup selection."
Kiwis assistant coach Tony Iro said his team still had some improvements to make before they would be capable of beating the Kangaroos, but said they would "definitely" be paying attention to Sonny Bill Williams' return to League early next year.
"We're really excited about him coming back to the game," he said.
"But after his boxing and after he gets settled back into the NRL, then we can establish whether he is ready.
"Sonny is an experienced guy now, so he'll know himself, but he is definitely in our plans."
Test and Queenslander star David Shillington said playing the Kiwis was comparable to State of Origin.
"Every game is tough ... the Kiwi forward pack is massive and like I said, they always play aggressively," Shillington said.
"This could be the game where Sonny-Bill comes back and plays as well, so I'm looking forward to that aspect of it as well."
Last Modified on 20/12/2012 09:27