Could this team become the greatest All Blacks side?

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James Mortimer     30 Jul 2010     Getty Images

Of course, with the All Blacks boasting a better than 75% winning record over their proud history, there are many hybrids of their sides throughout the years that could lay convincing claim to being the best ever.

In 1905 there were the Originals, who played 35 matches (five of those tests) and lost only one game, the famous 3-0 loss to Wales in Cardiff in which Bob Deans try was controversially disallowed.

The 1921 Invincibles played 32 matches (four of those tests) and won every single game, where Cliff Porter and Jock Robinson led a wonderful rugby side.

In 1961 to 1964 the All Blacks went on a 17 match unbeaten run, with only two draws to Australia and Scotland marring what was at the time the nations best ever run.

On the 4th September 1965, the Springboks beat the All Blacks 19-16 in Christchurch, after which New Zealand would then record a world record winning streak of 17 straight test matches – a streak that has since been bettered by the Lithuanian national team.

In 1987, the All Blacks would win ten straight tests to win the inaugural World Cup, and then after drawing with the Wallabies 19-19 in Brisbane, would then set off and win another 12 test matches.

Despite not winning the 1995 World Cup, the All Blacks from that year through to 1997 would win back-to-back Tri Nations and Bledisloe Cups, and lose only three of 34 test matches.

In 2003 the All Blacks would win 11 straight test matches, and in seven of those games would post at least a half century of points – over Australia, South Africa and Wales no less.

And in late 2004, the All Blacks under current coach Graham Henry would kick off a remarkable period of rule, defined by a stunning 45-6 demolition of the Six Nations champions France in Paris.

Nine of the players who featured on that day are in the All Blacks matchday 22 to play the Wallabies in Melbourne.

It was a team that would win 36 from 40 test matches, claiming three Tri-Nations, three Bledisloe Cups and the most convincing clean sweep in history of a British and Irish Lions team.

But that team, like their high scoring counterparts in 2003, could not claim success in the Rugby World Cup.

Since their most recent World Cup exit, at the hands of France 20-18 in Cardiff, the All Blacks have won 28 of their last 34 test matches, with four of those defeats coming at the hands of the Springboks.

Their current captain in McCaw brought up his 75th test win when playing the Springboks in Wellington, eclipsing the previously thought unbreakable record set by Sean Fitzpatrick, who recorded 74 wins in 92 test matches.

McCaw will run out in his 86th test match this weekend.

Many feel that the All Blacks are on the cusp of another golden era, and while the winning of the Tri-Nations and the securing of the Bledisloe Cup are crucial to this conclusion, the portents are looking promising.

Since losing to South Africa in Hamilton 32-29 last year, the All Blacks have won 11 straight test matches.

They swept Europe last year, finishing their season with a 39-12 slaughter of France in Marseille. Their last six matches (including that game) has seen the All Blacks score 239 points, against the last three Six Nations champions and the current World and Tri-Nations title holders.

This winning run has also seen them score 39 tries to only 10 conceded, cementing their position on top of the International Rugby Board’s world rankings, now sitting a comfortable 5.98 points clear of second placed South Africa, and 9.99 points clear of fourth placed France.

A win against the Wallabies this weekend will see them record their eighth straight victory against Australia, and come close to the sequence set between 1936 and 1947 when nine wins on the trot were recorded.

It will also see them move past the 1967-1974 and 1995-1997 All Blacks who also won seven straight against the Wallabies.

Only four times has the Tri-Nations been claimed with an unbeaten run, three by the All Blacks (1996, 1997, 2003) and by the Springboks (1998), and never when the series has seen each team play six tests.

The tournament still has a long way to go, but to be overly optimistic, should the All Blacks manage to pull off this near impossible feat in 2010, they will set a new record for most wins over the Wallabies in a row, and sit on a 15 test match winning streak.

This will all, of course, count for little if the World Cup is not won in 2011.

But there can be little doubting that there is a fair amount of momentum being generated by this All Blacks team.

Where will they rate in terms of the greatest ever All Blacks side?