Monday 23 January 2017

Is this current All Blacks team the greatest of all time? Ireland captain Rory Best has his say

Published 04/11/2016 | 18:10

It is a testament to the greatness of the All Blacks that although Ireland enter Saturday's encounter in Chicago at close to full strength, Joe Schmidt's men are still 23 point underdogs with the bookies.

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The absence of Sean O'Brien and Peter O'Mahony leaves Ireland somewhat short of bruising ball carriers, but the huge handicap is undoubtedly down to New Zealand's growing unbeatability rather than any huge failing on the part of Schmidt's side.

Steve Hansen's outfit have won a tier one record of 18 consecutive test matches and haven't been defeated since an eight-point Rugby Championship loss to Australia in August 2015.

Such has been the consistent excellence of the All Blacks in recent times - they scored nine second half tries away to South Africa last month - the legitimate question is being asked of whether the current side is the best rugby team of all time.

What is particularly staggering is that Hansen's side have won ten straight matches since the retirement of Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith - arguably the four most influential players on their 2015 World Cup-winning team.

Ahead of tomorrow night's clash at Soldier Field, Rory Best was asked whether he goes along with the increasingly prevailing opinion that the 2016 All Blacks have moved ahead of everyone else on the all-time list.

"There’s been some fantastic rugby teams," he said.

"Statistically you look at what they’ve achieved over the last, well, over 12 months. In the Rugby Championship they’ve looked very, very strong.

"It’s hard to compare teams over generations, but there’s no doubt that this All Black team is an extremely talented team that know how to play rugby, know how to win games and also how to win games well. You look at the scorelines over the Rugby Championship it shows how good they are.

"Sean Fitzpatrick is someone who knows more about the All Black teams of old and if he says they’re the best team there’s ever been they’ve got to be close to it."

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