Record-chasing All Blacks put Australia in their sights
New Zealand All Blacks Malakai Fekitoa is tackled by the English defence during the third rugby union test match in Hamilton on June 21, 2014 - by Michael Bradley
Their winning streak started when they beat France 23-13 in Auckland last year on the way to becoming the first team in the professional era to go through a calendar year unbeaten.
They are now equal with the 17-Test winning runs of the 1965-69 All Blacks and 1997-98 Springboks, and will claim the record as their own if they beat Australia in their next Test in Sydney on August 16.
"It will be quite nice to hold it outright," captain Richie McCaw said, noting that he's been in All Blacks sides that have twice won 16 in a row but failed to go on.
"We've been in this situation a couple of times before but you acknowledge it and you work out what's the way of achieving these things and it's about every week going back, getting your feet on the ground, and preparing well.
"When we get the next chance that's what we've got to do."
England coach Stuart Lancaster praised the calibre of the All Blacks winning run which includes four wins over both France and England, three over Australia, two against South Africa and Argentina, as well as wins over Japan and Ireland.
"Their record demonstrates they are, in rugby terms, obviously the best but also in sporting terms to have won that number of international games against not just teams that are ranked sixth, seventh, and eight in the world they have done it consistently against second, third and fourth.
"They have a great blend of athletic talent and ability, skill-set, experience and continuity and consistency."
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen took time to reflect that it was "pleasing" to say "we've done something that two other great sides have done" before looking at what was next on his bucket list.
He wants the All Blacks to be the first team to go unbeaten two years in a row and the first team to win back-to-back World Cups.
The last time the All Blacks nudged the record number of wins was in 2012, also under Hansen, when they went unbeaten for 16 matches before being held to an 18-18 draw by Australia in Brisbane.
The All Blacks have twice compiled 15 consecutive wins before losing to Australia 26-24 in 2010 and 21-20 to South Africa in 2006.
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