Outside of the Kangaroos, the tournament presents a trio of intriguing games as teams enter sudden-death.
The match of the World Cup so far will take place on Saturday at Waikato Stadium amid defections, bad blood and the potential of a boilover that would throw New Zealand's finals hopes into disarray.
There was a familiar face missing from the Gold Coast's marketing material to fans and members as Garth Brennan kept the candles burning for the Hayne, who has ambitions of returning to Parramatta.
It's easy to get caught up in the moment, which is why the Titans find themselves here in the first place. But the Gold Coast need to be moneyballing their way back to respectability, not throwing cash at whoever happens to be on the market.
The Australian captain said he wouldn't be asking for any time off despite another punishing NRL and representative season for the veteran rake.
The Kiwi captain says the replacements are all world class but the loss of Thurston is a gap the Kangaroos won't be able to fully fill.
The former Panthers lower grades coach will have to hit the ground running to whip the Titans into shape after a shocking season that saw them finish second last and sack coach Neil Henry in the wake of a fall-out with their star player.
The Panthers big man and new Australian representative has already met one of his front row heroes. He's promised to hug the other one if they finally cross paths.
David Klemmer knows better than anyone that the sanctuary of the NRL goes out the window when it comes to the prospect of punch-ups in international rugby league.
As a chastened Josh Dugan vowed to lock himself away on days off, one of his Australian teammates revealed he planned to run off to Byron Bay one game-day during the World Cup.