All Blacks great Richie McCaw says there is nothing between the All Blacks and England and couldn't pick a winner between the two sides if they were playing this year.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the two-time Rugby World Cup winner who retired in 2015, says the gap between the Northern and Southern hemispheres has closed since the last World Cup.
In the 2015 tournament, the All Blacks, Australia, South Africa and Argentina made up the final four with hosts England failing to get out of pool play. But under new coach Eddie Jones, England have surged to number two in the world rankings, winning 14 tests in a row.
It's now at a point where McCaw couldn't pick a winner if the All Blacks were facing England, a match which won't take place until at least the end of 2018.
"I really don't know," McCaw said. "There is very little between the teams. It is a pity they are not playing each other for so long."
McCaw told the British newspaper the results at the end of last year proved the gap had closed in very quick time between the two hemispheres.
"I think the autumn really showed that there's nothing between the north and south any more," McCaw said. "
"You look at South Africa losing to Italy, Wales and England, the Aussies losing to England, New Zealand to Ireland. I actually thought there was very little between the teams before but that reinforced that."
McCaw said he was quite pleased he didn't experience the All Blacks shock loss to Ireland in Chicago, their first ever defeat to the Irish.
"In a real selfish way I was relieved I wasn't out there at the final whistle because that would not have been enjoyable in any way," McCaw said. "Some of the skill and tries that the All Blacks have produced have been a step up from what I was involved in, but Ireland managed to stop those moments and made it tight. When they got one or two chances, they were nailing them."
If England go through the Six Nations unbeaten they will break the All Blacks' recent tier one record of 18 test wins on the trot.
McCaw is predicting the defending champions will make it all the way to the final match against Ireland on March 18.
"I would be surprised if it didn't come down to that game. It will be really tough for the English if they get to that point with their record intact. There will be a lot of pressure on them and the Irish would love to knock them over. Wouldn't that be an amazing day?"