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How does Canterbury measure up with other great NZ sides?

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James Mortimer     28 Oct 2012     Getty Images

Their feat of winning five consecutive titles is something never before achieved by a New Zealand province.

Twice Auckland went four in a row, with their 1987 to 1990 side first recording the mark, before the great team from 1993 to 1996 claimed four every season.

Their more ardent supporters will argue that if it was not for the 1991 Otago team and the 1992 Waikato outfit, Auckland could have claimed ten titles in a row, but musing does not change the history books.

From 1985 to 1993 Auckland went 61 Ranfurly Shield defences to go alongside their first reign, while overall the great rugby factory has won the Log o'Wood 16 times, with 148 defences, while Canterbury sits second with 14 wins and 129 defences.

But in the same manner that the Crusaders wrested Investec Super Rugby power in New Zealand from the Blues in 1996 and 1997, Canterbury of late has been unchallenged as the supreme power in the ITM Cup.

A powerful front row enforced by All Blacks has seen Wyatt Crockett in particular continue to play an important role in Canterbury's run, despite not making regular All Black appearances, and the tireless George Whitelock has been backed up by Matt Todd, with the red and black machine long absorbing the loss of mercurial All Blacks flank Richie McCaw.

But this season it has again been the backline that has shone, with the growing talents of Tom Taylor and Tyler Bleyendaal mingling with the experience of Andy Ellis and the power of Robbie Fruean.

Taranaki, Hawke's Bay and Poverty Bay have also had notable reigns in either the NPC Second Division or the Lochore Cup - but Canterbury have now made the most compelling statement to be recognised as the best New Zealand province of all time.

Although some great sides throughout history, with Shield tenures or visiting Test team scalps, could present their own argument as to the strongest New Zealand side in their proud history.