Blackburn Rovers captain Ryan Nelsen has backed his New Zealand teammate Shane Smeltz to be a star at this year's World Cup. The Gold Coast United striker will lead the frontline for the All Whites in Group F as they take on Italy, Paraguay and Slovakia in South Africa and his national team skipper believes he has the ability to emerge as a top shelf player when the tournament concludes.

"Shane is in his absolute prime and could potentially be a star at the World Cup," Nelsen says in his book Ryan Nelsen's Road to the World Cup.

"The world could be at his feet, like it could be for all our strikers.

"There's not much of Smeltzy. He looks like a big, tall glass of water but he has that $100 million quality, an ability to score goals.

"He makes it look ridiculously easy but he has this happy knack of popping up in the right place at the right time.

"It's no coincidence. People say a lot a strikers are lucky because 'it just fell for him' or 'he was just there to nod it home'.

"But it's an art, a skill to be able to do that. It's instinctive and Shane definitely has that predatory impulse."