Wellington - New Zealand captain Richie McCaw insists the All Blacks will need to raise their game by a few notches in Saturday's second Test against a fast-improving England to maintain the upper hand in a "hell of a tough" three-match series.
The hosts fell well short of their own high standards in a last-gasp 20-15 win in Auckland last week, a scrappy performance against an understrength England side which coach Steve Hansen described as the worst during his tenure.
"We realised this series was going to be a hell of a tough one, coming off the games we've had the last couple of years," McCaw told reporters in Dunedin on Friday.
"It's exactly what we expected but we didn't help ourselves last week. We know what England are going to bring, so we need to be better, because they're going to be better no doubt about that," the 33-year-old flanker added.
The All Blacks, largely unchanged from the side that looked underprepared in the series opener, will lock horns with an England side bolstered by five fresh starters and McCaw expects the visitors to show further improvement.
"You've got to expect that don't you," the 125-Test veteran said. "They've got a few guys back and they'll be better for having had a run together, just like we will be. It's going to make for a pretty big battle I'd suggest."
In the rival camp, coach Stuart Lancaster warned his players to be wary of an All Blacks backlash.
"They'll obviously have done some more analysis on us and will have a better feel of what we are going to offer," Lancaster said.
"It's not too bold a statement to say that we'll need to be 20 percent better, because that's what the All Blacks will be and we didn't get over the line (in Auckland)," the coach told the Rugby Football Union website (www.rfu.com).