“For a multiple of reasons it’s great for the game,” Herbert said.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity. It may be mammoth gap between where we’re they are and we’re at but it gives a chance on that world stage to put a good foot forward and I think we can.”
Italy arrived in South Africa on the back of a 3-0 friendly win over Northern Ireland in Pisa and, as the match against New Zealand is the Azzurri’s only warm-up before their Group B opener against the USA, Marcello Lippi may elect to give many of his front liners another hit out.
Like Spain on June 15 (NZT), Italy will field a line-up stacked with the most influential players from Europe’s top clubs but Herbert says that is exactly why fans will get excited.
“One of the important things of getting to this level, is that those sort of things flow into the game.
“Whilst it’ll be great for the players on the pitch to play the best players and the best teams in the world, football fans can switch that on and watch their own team play the likes of [Italy captain] Fabio Cannavaro or [Spain’s Liverpool striker] Fernando Torres or whoever.
“People watch those players week in and week out because they they’re the best players in the world. There’ll be some amazing match-ups and some really intriguing competitions on the park.”
“Kids will love it. They’ll watch and see that opportunities are there in the game and if you can qualify these are the sorts of teams you’re going to come up against.”
The bulk of the New Zealand team has seen game time in friendlies against Tanzania and Botswana but the battle for starting spots has taken on added intensity this week with the 11 named by Herbert against Italy likely to line-up against Spain on June 15 (NZT).
“I think we’re pretty close to settling on a starting 11 out against Italy which would obviously translate into a starting 11 for Spain.
“It’s a tough call. There’s some good depth through the squad. There’ll be some disappointments but that’s the reality of this level of football.”
With just two training sessions left, the biggest selection decision left for the All Whites coaching staff is what role, if any, Ben Sigmund would play.
Herbert had targeted this match for Sigmund’s first taste of game time on tour after recovering from off-season surgery and while the defender’s recovery was on track, decisions on whether Sigmund would play, and if that would be as a starter or from the bench, would be left until the night before the match.
“I think physiologically the full component of where he needs to be from a match fitness point of view is going to be difficult for him,” Herbert said.
“He’s coping with the workload we’ve given him and from a pain perspective he’s kind of got through that barrier now so the signs are positive. We’ve got two sessions before the Italy game and we should be in a position to make that call.
The decision [on whether he starts the game] is based on the team’s needs and if we think it’s in the teams’ interest to start him we will, but we’re probably 24 hours from making that commitment.
The match kicks off at 6.45am New Zealand time with live coverage on Sky Sport 2 from 6.30am.