The All Blacks aren’t shying away from their latest crack at owning the longest winning streak in Test rugby.
New Zealand’s defeat of England in the second Test at Dunedin on Saturday was their 16th in succession, leaving them one short of the top-tier nation record shared by All Blacks of 1965-69 and the Springboks of 1997-98.
Victory in the third Test in Hamilton on Saturday would lift them level, setting up a stab at the world record in the Rugby Championship opener against Australia in Sydney on August 16.
Mealamu has been part of three streaks that fell just short over the last decade and doesn’t want the same mistakes repeated.
“There’s a definite awareness in the group,” he said.
“It’d be awesome, so I think it’s something that we’ll walk towards and really embrace it because it hasn’t been done before.”
The All Blacks won 15 straight in 2005-06 and 2009-10, before a 16-Test streak in 2011-12 was ended by the Wallabies when they drew 18-18 in Brisbane.
Mealamu believes those previous teams have been guilty of approaching the landmark the wrong way.
“Looking back, the record has been something that we didn’t want to talk about and tried to put on the backburner but everyone knew about it.”
He said the threat posed by England following two fiercely-fought Tests this month will be enough in itself keep the minds focused.
The record doesn’t have the same resonance for coach Steve Hansen, whose chief motivation is further improvement for his team after progress was achieved between Tests one and two.
Hansen is delighted his players are being put through the wringer by opponents he suspects will be a major force when they host next year’s World Cup.
“From a World Cup point of view, we’ve introduced a couple of new players but the biggest thing about this series is we’re learning a lot about ourselves,” Hansen said.
“And we’re learning a bit about England. That information will be good going forward.”