New Zealand confront Australia in a historic RugbyWorld Cup final on Saturday with All Black legend Jonah Lomu fearing nerves could get the better of his country.

The Twickenham match starting at 1600 GMT will be the first final between the longstanding rivals in eight World Cups.

The winner will be the first country to be crowned world champions three times.

The All Blacks, with captain Richie McCaw and star fly half Dan Carter in their World Cup swangsongs, also want to become the first side to successfully defend their title.

Coaches Steve Hansen of New Zealand and Michael Cheika of Australia have predicted a fast-paced physical battle in the 155th match between the two nations. New Zealand have won 105, Australia 42 and seven have been drawn.

But Lomu said nerves are the “big beast” for the New Zealand stars.

“It’s the one thing I worry about with the All Blacks, as they need to prepare for the game and leave their emotions aside,” he told AFP.

Lomu said it was worse for the heroes like McCaw, Carter and other veterans for whom “it is a chapter closing.”

“It is a difficult angle to think about, but it does play on your mind.”

Hansen said it is “normal to feel anxiety” but added: “I can assure you the boys have trained well all week they are in good fettle.”

“To be in such good shape is also exciting and against a competitor as good as Australia is also really good because it’s a big challenge.

“It’s a challenge these guys are looking forward to.”

– Key duels –

There will be several key duels between the two sides, including between wings Savea and Australia’s veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper, or Read and Australian counterpart, David Pocock, one of the favourites to be named rugby player of the year on Sunday.

But both coaches have indicated the match will be the latest in a series of bone-crunching clashes at this World Cup.

“I have got a lot of belief in the team,” said Cheika on the eve of the final.

“We had a short space of time between the RugbyChampionship and this. We know it’s going to be extremely physical and we have prepared accordingly.”

The Wallaby coach acknowledged the powerful All Black game as well.

“It’s pretty much their modus operandi, they have got great leg drive and I love that style of play.”

All Black rival Hansen also predicted an open game.

“Given conditions are okay I think we’ll see some running rugby,” Hansen said.

New Zealand captain McCaw has put off a final decision on whether he will give up Test rugby.

For Carter it is the ideal stage to bow out on in what will be his first appearance in a World Cup final.

He missed the 8-7 win over France in the 2011 final because of an injury he suffered during the tournament one of several that have bedevilled his career but which has produced a world record 1,579 points from 111 games.

“There were moments when I thought it might be the end, but I had to fight through that to be where I am today,” Carter said Friday as he polished off kicking practice at Twickenham.

“It’s the love of the All Blacks jersey. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I got a taste for it in 2003 for the first time and never wanted it to end.”

New Zealand wing Savea has scored eight tries for the tournament and could set a new record for a single World Cup if he scores on Saturday.

Australia’s Drew Mitchell needs to add two tries to his current 14 to set a new overall record for World Cup tries.

Australia’s 35-12 victory over France in 1999 remains the highest scoring and highest winning margin in a World Cup final.

New Zealand’s win over France in the last final was the lowest scoring ever. – Agence France-Presse

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