Lancaster hails All Black dominance
England head coach Stuart Lancaster regards Richie McCaw's world champions as the best New Zealand team he has seen - and the most dominant force in any sport.
The rivals meet at Twickenham on Saturday in an eagerly-awaited climax to the QBE Internationals with the All Blacks intent on avenging last autumn's record 38-21 defeat.
As if New Zealand required any further motivation, they have been riled by the publication in the British media earlier this week of a statement written on the whiteboard of their team room that 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 wining.
"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 stresses the Red Rose are following 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.
"New Zealand is a country of four million people, so we have a lot more people to engage with. You can only do that step by step.
"You have to get the internal bit right first in terms of respect for your own shirt.
"The sense of English identity is a complex subject. The starting point is the shirt really and what the shirt means to the people."
England have made just one change as they seek to record a seventh successive victory at Twickenham, selecting Dan Cole at tighthead prop ahead of David Wilson.
"The mindset of this New Zealand team will be strong," Lancaster said.
"They've got an unbeaten record to preserve at the end of a long, hard season, Dan Carter is winning his 100th cap and they've got an opportunity to play against a team they've been beaten by.
"That makes a powerful force collectively. We've got to make sure we're aware of that and have our own emotions ready to meet it."