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After leading Australia to Four Nations glory in 2016 Cameron Smith has enjoyed a perfect 2017 season.

Smith to complete a dream year, what England must do to challenge Australia, and where Mitchell Pearce should go next.

Can Australia be beaten?

I feel like I wrote a similar piece about Melbourne late in the NRL season.

Just as was the case with the Storm in the Telstra Premiership, the World Cup is Australia's to lose.

If the Kangaroos play close to their best, England won't be beating them on Saturday night no matter what plan they come up with.

It's hard to imagine the class players in the Australian line-up will allow this opportunity to slip. It's even harder to imagine that they will concede more points in the final than they have in total in their five matches at this tournament. 

Because 18 points is the minimum I believe it would take to pull off the upset, and the Kangaroos have conceded only 16 in charging through to the final.

What does England need to do well?

There is no doubt in my mind they look a better side now than they did back in the tournament opener in Melbourne.

The big difference is the form of Gareth Widdop at fullback and prop Alex Walmsley coming off the bench.

I am sure Wayne Bennett will have his side locked in to play a most direct attack. Big man after big man with the hit-ups. Quick play the balls. James Roby to take off when he sees opportunity. Luke Gale and Kevin Brown to provide a solid kicking game. That all looks like a decent game plan.

The above will keep them in the contest but won't necessarily produce points. It is Widdop that has to provide the attacking spark.

They deserve their spot in the final and I hope they go well. But I also hope they come with a 'Plan B' to do whatever it takes to try and topple Australia. 

Is there such a thing as a Grand Slam?

No, but if Cameron Smith leads Australia to victory on Saturday night, you'll have an unofficial definition of one.

What a magic year 2017 has been for Smith. He led Melbourne to the NRL title. He won the Dally M clearly. He was there to guide Queensland back from one-nil down in the State of Origin series. He hasn't missed an international in a year when he passed the 50-Test milestone. And now, World Cup glory awaits.

His mistakes in the entire season you can count on one hand. What's more he plays 80 minutes virtually every game and does the goalkicking on most occasions too.

Yes, it is set to be a Grand Cam Slam!

Will the Jillaroos defend their World Cup title?

I say yes, but New Zealand couldn't have done much more in getting themselves ready for the inevitable decider.

I urge fans heading to Suncorp Stadium to get to the ground early and witness this match, and make it the biggest night in history for women's rugby league.

This one could go right down to the wire.

Where should Mitchell Pearce head to?

Mitchell is a quality player and would be an asset wherever he goes.

At 28 years of age and with 238 NRL games under his belt, 17 State of Origins, a premiership victory and three player of the year awards at the Roosters, Pearce has plenty to offer.

I think it would be great if he linked up with the Newcastle Knights and became a real leader for them as they aim to leave their wooden spoon times behind. However Manly have already graduated in 2017 from outside the top eight to finalists, so I would totally understand if he went the way of what appeared the 'surer' bet.

I think for his sake, a decision on his future needs to come in the next week. Commit to a club and then rip in. 

Pearce will succeed wherever he goes, and I can't wait to call his next game.

Is this it?

Sadly yes. The season really is coming to an end.

Mind you, the 16 NRL clubs are already in training for 2018, and the pre-season schedule looks enticing with visits from a number of Super League clubs. The World Club Challenge is on Australian soil, and there's the Cameron Smith/Johnathan Thurston testimonial match to look forward to.

It'll come around soon enough.

Thanks for reading the column through the year and providing feedback. Have a happy Christmas everyone. But remember, Santa doesn't deliver premierships.

Giddy Up!

Twitter: @AndrewVossy


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