England can beat All Blacks' streak: Hansen

by AFP

In-form England are capable of breaking New Zealand's record of 18 successive Test wins, provided they maintain mental discipline, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said Wednesday.

Hansen's men set their 18-match benchmark by defeating Australia in October before Ireland snapped the winning streak with a famous victory in Chicago last month.

England went home with the Cook Cup in June. Photo: Getty ImagesEngland have won 14 Tests on the trot and can surpass the All Blacks if they sweep all five of their matches in the Six Nations tournament early next year.

"Of course they can, if they've got the mental fortitude to get up every week and play well," Hansen told Radio Sport when asked if England could do it.

He expected England to defeat Italy and Scotland, conceding Ireland, France and Wales were "toughies" but beatable if England repeated their 2016 Grand Slam heroics.

"We know they're capable of beating them, they went through the last year undefeated. It's there for them to have a crack at," Hansen said.

The All Blacks' winning run stretched from August 2015 until the Ireland defeat on November 5 and Hansen said staying mentally sharp over such a long period was difficult.

The moment Ireland realised they'd beaten the All Blacks. Photo: Getty Images"It's obviously a very tough thing to do from a preparation and mental point of view without sub-consciously letting complacency slip in," he said.

He believed England's 2015 World Cup trauma -- when they became the only host nation bundled out in the pool stages -- and their no-nonsense Australian coach Eddie Jones would keep them focused.

"The one thing England have in their favour is that they've had a lot of adversity," he said.

"That World Cup really hurt those players and they've got a steely determination to want to do better and a coach who's driving it.

 "That's a good combination to put a lot of wins together."