England v New Zealand
All Blacks 'most successful team in world sport'
ESPN Staff
November 15, 2013
England enjoyed an important win over the All Blacks last season © Getty Images

England coach Stuart Lancaster has heaped praise on the All Blacks ahead of Saturday's Test labelling them the best team he has seen.

England put the All Blacks to the sword last year and consigned them to their first defeat since they won the 2011 World Cup. It was a seminal moment in Lancaster's reign but it is testament to the All Blacks that England's win was held in such significance.

The Kiwis have been riled this week after a British newspaper earlier this week leaked some of the team's private slogans which were written on a whiteboard in their team room. One said: "We are the most dominant team in the history of the world".

It is a bold claim that has provoked mixed reactions, but an argument could be made for its accuracy - the All Blacks have lost just once in 33 Tests - and that view is echoed by Lancaster.

"New Zealand have become probably the most successful team in world sport," Lancaster said. "I would have to say this is the best New Zealand team because of their record and what they have achieved on the back on winning a World Cup.

"When teams win a World Cup they traditionally take a dip, maybe rest on their laurels, but they have managed to retain the hunger and desire to keep winning. The Rugby Championship is a very tough tournament to win and they have done that twice now.

"In world sport could you tell me a team that has a record like that internationally? I don't think any of the football teams have got it, Spain for example. In cricket no-one has it. So, yes, this is the best team."

Lancaster frequently references New Zealand as he attempts to mould England into a force capable of supplanting them as the world's number one side. One of the steps taken has been to forge a stronger bond between each player and his England jersey in a way that has proved successful for the All Blacks.

But Lancaster wants his team to follow their own path as dictated by their own history.

"We're not trying to emulate what the All Blacks are trying to do, we're trying to capture our own heritage. There's a difference, we're not trying to copy them," he said. "What we are trying to do is tap into what the English rugby shirt means and what the pride in the shirt means. What it meant to the people who used to play for it.

"If you can tap into that and find what that means, that's a pretty powerful source of motivation, a deeper sense of motivation. That's what the All Blacks did in their transitional period from 2004 to 2007, they really understood that and got the best out of that history."

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