All Blacks legends lined up to acclaim the current New Zealand team as the best ever on Monday, saying their domination over the past four years made the accolade indisputable.
Former All Black captain Anton Oliver said defeating Australia to claim back-to-back World Cups was a “momentous” achievement by Richie McCaw’s men.
Oliver said he was no fan of comparing teams from different eras but evidence of the team’s greatness was too strong to ignore after the 34-17 victory at Twickenham.
“Without doubt the last 12 years have been unprecedented, the last four especially if we’re going to call this the best team,” he told Radio New Zealand.
“(Since the 2011 World Cup) there’s been 54 Tests, we’ve only lost three and drawn two. I mean that’s phenomenal. So I’d have to say yes, just on the record books, those stats are phenomenal.”
The 81-Test halfback-turned-television commentator Justin Marshall said he normally also shunned comparisons, but admitted “this team has forced my hand”.
“Statistically their record is incredible. Also, back-to-back World Cups,” he told Radio Sport. “Eight years of rugby that I don’t think will be emulated.
“The success they’ve had, the way they’ve gone about it, the players that have come through that decade — legends with over 100 Test matches, one (McCaw) with more Test matches than any other person has got on the planet.
“This team is the best All Black team over a decade that we’ll ever see, which is really hard for me to say considering I wasn’t in it.”
Graham Henry, who coached New Zealand to the 2011 title, echoed the sentiment.
“This All Blacks side is the best All Blacks side that’s ever represented our country,” he told Newstalk ZB.
Henry said the key to the team’s success was striving for constant improvement regardless of what they had already achieved.
“They’ve ticked all the boxes but they won’t be satisfied,” he said. “They’ll know that they can go another step, that’s what it’s about.
“When you’re satisfied then you’re dead. They’ll never be satisfied hopefully and I’m delighted that I have had some involvement in setting the foundation.” – Agence France-Presse