England enforcer Tom Burgess has labelled the Kiwis pack the toughest on the planet, ahead of the first test on Monday (NZT) in Hull.
Burgess is one of the behemoths in the England pack - standing at 1.96m and weighing in more than 120 kilos (there is no one bigger on either team) - but has great respect for the power and aggression of the New Zealand forward unit.
It may be just typical pre-match hyperbole - as the home side try to talk up the Kiwis - but Burgess seemed genuine in his view.
"They are a great pack...they speak for themselves," said Burgess. "They have a lot of experience and have been playing together for a while and they are all a big force in the NRL."
Burgess also indicated that there is no greater physical challenge than the one his team will face at the KC Stadium this weekend.
"Compared to other teams in the NRL and even the Australian team they are just big boys aren't they?, said Burgess. "They are genetically big and powerful...probably the most physical pack in the world. That is their big advantage and we have to try and match them."
Recent history suggests they will. The England forwards finished over the top of the Kiwis in the 2013 World Cup semi final, with only Shaun Johnson's last minute heroics preventing what would have been a deserved home victory.
And an even more relevant comparison, in terms of current personnel, came in the 2014 Four Nations match in Dunedin last year, where the English pack gave no quarter and dominated their highly vaunted opposites for periods in a thrilling match.
Unlike the Australian forwards, who were destroyed by the Kiwis in two of the last three encounters, the England pack seem to have more size - and starch.
"If we are going to win, we have to stop those guys," said Burgess, "That's all there is to it. It's always been tough games the last couple of years since I have been involved and we are really looking forward to testing ourselves against the number one team in the world at the moment. We haven't got small boys either and it should be a good battle through the middle."
Burgess will be a key man in the series. Perhaps overshadowed in the past by older brother Sam and twin George, a lot will rest on the broad shoulders of the 23-year-old.
He's been a revelation in the NRL, already recognized as one of the most effective English imports in the last decade. After making his debut in 2013, Burgess blossomed last season, making 25 appearances for Souths, averaging a club high 132 running metres per game, as well as contributing more than 20 tackles per match.
"Things have gone pretty well but I don't really like to look back," said Burgess. "I like to keep moving forward and that is how you get successes on the way."
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- By Michael Burgess in England