Warren Gatland is getting some of his blows in early ahead of next year's Lions tour, saying "anyone" in New Zealand could coach the All Blacks to an 85 per cent winning record.
The All Blacks are presently on an 18-game winning run, a world record for tier one teams, and have won 92 per cent of games in the Steve Hansen era. It led former Wales first five-eighths Neil Jenkins, who is one of Gatland's assistants with the Welsh team, to suggest the All Blacks are the best team in the world in any sport but the Lions coach is less impressed.
"Anyone in New Zealand could coach the All Blacks and you would be guaranteed an 85 per cent win record, so it's not a bad team to be involved with," Gatland told the Irish Independent.
"People talk about how they compare with the 1963 team. I was involved in that All Black team after 1987 [World Cup winners].
"It wasn't the same number of test matches, but we were involved in plenty of undefeated matches and that was on the old tours and playing midweek games.
"It's very difficult to compare generations or decades of teams and individuals but they are an absolute quality side and they have got a lot of things right at the moment. The players are playing with real confidence and freedom and they tend not to panic if they are behind."
His comments come on the back of earlier ones this week when he said he was "embarrassed" by the attitudes of some new Zealand rugby fans, particularly the booing of Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper and the portrayal by the Herald of Wallabies coach Michael Cheika as a clown, and hoped his Lions team would be afforded more respect.
The Herald continued the clown theme today, with a cartoon by Rod Emmerson of Gatland as a sad-faced clown.
All of this discourse is setting the scene for an eagerly-anticipated Lions tour of New Zealand next year, their first since the 2005 series.