Zealand fly-half Dan Carter has fanned the flames ahead of their clash with England on Saturday, insisting they are no longer good enough to challenge the southern hemisphere sides.
Stuart Lancaster’s side have lost close Tests to Australia and South Africa in the past fortnight during a frustrating autumn series, whereas New Zealand remain unbeaten since August 2011 and have already strolled past Scotland, Italy and Wales this tour.
Carter also expressed surprise at the decline of England, who have lost nine consecutive games against the All Blacks, last winning in 2003 before going on to lift the World Cup.
“Maybe consistency is what’s been lacking. They’ve got the players, so talent’s not an issue. They can beat any side on their day,” he said. “I’m surprised they haven’t done more since 2003. They’ve shown the strength of their side only in patches since.
“It was in 2003 that I got the All Black jersey for the first time, though unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to get on. England were in their prime and had a pretty successful year. They taught us a lesson at home. We have real pride in not losing at home and they took it to us that night.”
The 30-year-old missed the 33-10 victory over Wales on Saturday with Achilles and calf injuries, but is confident he will return to earn his 94th cap for the All Blacks.
“Hopefully I’ll be ready, nothing’s changed over the last couple of days,” he added. “The plan was to get through training. It was pretty light, so I didn’t go over 50 per cent.
“I’m pretty confident I’ll be right to play. It’s the last game of the year so I want to be part of it.”
Carter revealed that lifting the World Cup last year has inspired New Zealand to continue setting the standard in world rugby.
“It’s a very new squad so it doesn’t feel like there’s any less pressure playing for the All Blacks now that we’ve won a World Cup,” he said. “It’s more the fact of proving a lot of people wrong in some way or another.
“History has shown that teams that win the World Cup have pretty average seasons the following year. That’s been a big focus for us this year. We never look too far ahead and every time we pull on the All Black jersey it’s a chance to add to the legacy.”