Let’s get one thing straight. This is an extraordinary All Black side, albeit during an era where perhaps the competition hasn’t been quite at its best.
Who knew of Anton Lienert-Brown a year ago?
Who envisaged that Beauden Barrett could be, goal kicking aside, be our best ever Number 10?
Who knew that Aaron Smith maybe wasn’t the best halfback in the country or world after all?
As unpatriotic as it may sound, would Colin Meads come close to what Brodie Retallick has achieved?
Coles v Fitzpatrick? This is not really an argument worth having.
This is a genuine GOAT All Blacks side and, going by the odds, this Saturday they will break the record of consecutive test wines against so-called Tier One test nations. A welcome addition of spice to what would otherwise have been viewed as a dead rubber.
So what’s this Tier One thing about? Don’t forget this string includes Tonga, Namibia and Georgia. Three sides the All Blacks would never play against were it not for the Rugby World Cup.
Note the 1970 All Black side to South Africa played a match against Namibia before the end of the streak.
July 4 1970. Windhoek. South West Africa (now Namibia) 0 New Zealand 16
So that’s a streak of 18 if all things are to be treated fairly. They also played Zimbabwe.
July 21 1970. Salisbury. Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) 14 New Zealand 27
@Sportsfreakconz The record is for a tier 1 team not just against tiers 1 teams.
— AJ (@AJayZaNZ) October 18, 2016
Orwellian revisionism brilliance aside, we should not forget what has come before, especially the Needle Allen coached side of 1965-70. That’s right, five whole years of unbeaten All Black victories, in a time when test matches were a little more cherished.
The first test had Sir Wilson Whineray in charge, after that it was Sir Brian Lochore’s team. Just think of the names in the pack. Sir Colin Meads, his brother, Kel Tremain, Ian Kirkpatrick, Graham Williams, Lochore, Waka Nathan, Ken Gray and Jazz Muller to name a few.
In the backs there were various combinations of Going and Laidlaw, Kirton and Herewini, Williment and McCormick, and Crash MacRae. And those backs were used too; a rarity up until that point.
For that second half of the decade they completely dominated world rugby. And they did it playing attractive rugby too. The streak included a then record win over the Springboks and a first ever whitewash over the British and Irish Lions. It should have included a first ever Grand Slam in 1967 but for a foot and mouth outbreak in the UK that prevented them touring Ireland.
They had to burn their kit before returning to New Zealand
Then, at Loftus Versfeld they came up against the likes ofDe Villiers, Nomis, du Preez, Piet Robbertse and Dr Malan in the high veldt dust. South Africa was easily the toughest place to visit in the Apartheid era..
This side deserves the accolades, but if you respect the Heritage of All Black rugby you should read up on what that side of the late 1960s achieved.