The current All Blacks are arguably the best side ever, having set a new record for 18 consecutive test wins.

The next best, on world rankings at least, are England. They beat Australia 3-0 during their down under tour in June.

But just how many English players would make the current All Blacks side?

The Telegraph's Steve James gives his combined New Zealand-England XV.


15 - Ben Smith

This chap mostly plays rugby from a different planet. No disrespect to Mike Brown, who is a very different type of player - all snarl and defensive excellence - but this is not close.

14 - Israel Dagg

A full-back who has done rather well on the wing. Anthony Watson might challenge him when at his best but that was not the case this season even before he was injured.

13 - Jonathan Joseph

Controversial, I know, and fans of Malakai Fekitoa, Anton Lienert-Brown and George Moala will not be happy, but Joseph has matured into a top-class outside centre, with his defensive work now as sharp as his attacking prowess.

12 - Owen Farrell

Difficult to leave him out, as Warren Gatland will doubtless discover with the British and Irish Lions next year. Improving all the time. In fairness, Ryan Crotty has been better than I thought.

11 - Julian Savea

How Eddie Jones would love someone like him, or indeed Waisake Naholo. Huge men who can frighten opposition back lines and score tries.

10 - Beauden Barrett

What happened to that full-back who was covering fly-half? He has turned into the best 10 in the world by some distance. Stunning year. George Ford did excellently in Australia for England, after it appeared he might be losing his way after a shocker against Wales.

9 - Aaron Smith

Has had his troubles of late but remains comfortably the best. England are still not entirely sure here.

8 - Kieran Read

Sorry Billy Vunipola. This is as difficult a choice as it will be between Vunipola and Taulupe Faletau for the Lions' shirt. Read is still the ultimate eight. Has everything.

7 - Sam Cane

Had to be a New Zealander here, but which one? Cane has been injured and Ardie Savea has been sensational off the bench. Matt Todd isn't bad either.

6 - Maro Itoje

Jerome Kaino does so much work, but so does Itoje, and it is Itoje's lineout work that tips the balance, because he is so brilliant on opposition ball, scaring the lives out of so many teams this year.

5 - Sam Whitelock

George Kruis is unlucky because he is now such a crucial cog in England's wheel, but Whitelock's skills around the field put him in front.

4 - Brodie Retallick

Not always been at his best this year but, then again, in 2014 he was superhuman. Signs recently that he is getting back there.

3 - Owen Franks

Has improved his work around the park hugely, and is now handling with rare deftness for a prop and making line breaks. Dan Cole cannot do that.

2 - Dane Coles

Some of his play in the wide channels is now becoming ridiculously good. He doesn't do too badly in the tight either. Dylan Hartley has led England very, very well.

1 - Mako Vunipola

All those worries about scrummaging appear to have been allayed and he is even more of a beast around the field. He was even goalkicking superbly in training the other day. Joe Moody is excellent but Vunipola has the X-factor.