- 16 Oct 07, 05:20 PM
Paris – It has been quite a strange experience being around the England camp over the last couple of weeks.
Kay's admission that "a lot of guys have been surprised" with the team's progress in France probably gives some hint as to why the side are so serene.
Compare that with the "sense of relief" that he says the players felt in 2003 when England won the World Cup after going into the event as favourites, and you can see why the pressure is not so great this time. They have nothing to lose.
"We came into this tournament with everybody telling us we had absolutely no hope right up to the last couple of weeks," he added. "If we were to win it, it would be a phenomenal achievement.
"I honestly believe if we win, it will mean more to me than last time around because of the trough we have been through since winning that World Cup."
And after forming a pretty effective partnership in France, why should they be?
Kay, who has played every minute of every game so far this tournament, admitted that the line-out would be “an area we will be working very hard on this week” but the England pair will feel confident that they have enough to take on South Africa this weekend.
In the games against Australia and France, England lost only two of their line-outs, and if you forge that with a dominant scrum, you can see why they have had such a solid platform on which to build.
Kay modestly said the line-out had been "adequate" this tournament, saying: "On occasions we have driven pretty well and against France and Australia we have shown that we can stop teams driving against us pretty effectively.
“But the South Africans are a different kettle of fish. That’s an area they look to dominate matches in and obviously we will have to step it up and compete a bit harder in the air than we did against France."
For Shaw, Saturday’s final will mark the high point of a long international journey.
The 34-year-old Wasps lock has only claimed 42 caps since making his England debut in 1996 and has missed out on three World Cups.
Injury forced him out of consideration for the 1995 tournament while he failed to make the squad in 1999. In 2003 he was omitted again only to go out as 31st man after an injury to Danny Grewcock.
He did not make it out onto the pitch however and for that reason he says his MBE and World Cup winner's medal are "stashed away somewhere".
And he is delighted that he is preparing for a final after having contributed far more to the campaign this time.
"It’s a dream to be involved in this World Cup final," he said. "A few months ago I didn’t really believe that I would get here let alone play in a final.
"I’m here on the biggest stage that the game can offer so I’m pretty happy. There has been 12 years of hard work to get here so it will mean a huge amount."
Shaw was keen to shrug off any comparisons with England’s World Cup winning skipper Martin Johnson but Kay, who played with Johnson at Leicester, gave his own insight as to how the two players compare.
"Shawsy’s a bit less boring!" he said. "They are pretty similar in the physicality they bring to the game. If Johnno had not been there then Shawsy would have had a huge number of caps by now.
"When Leicester play Wasps he is the player in the forwards that we worry about most. It’s great to be able to build a relationship with him on the pitch where he is not trying to knock the hell out of me."
Mark Orlovac is a BBC Sport journalist based in London. He will be based in Paris for the knockout stages of the Rugby World Cup.