Wellington - 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 on 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 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,"
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.
"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