All Black fly-half Dan Carter believes England are genuine contenders, and he expects a tough series of tests against Stuart Lancaster's men who visit New Zealand this summer.
The 32-year old fly-half, who was part of the All Blacks squad that won the World Cup when it was hosted in New Zealand, is currently on a sabbatical in the hope that he will be fresh for the campaign to retain their title next year, in England.
Carter, capped 100 times by the All Blacks, and who holds the record for most amount of points in the international game's history, with 1,442 points, said that: "England will definitely be a threat. They are building momentum, getting a strong squad together and building confidence."
"In every World Cup I've been involved in, the host nation is always a team to look out for - they will definitely be there, or thereabouts."
Ahead of welcoming Lancaster's men to New Zealand in June for a series of three Test matches, he said: "It's going to be a great Test series. I'm sure they'll love to challenge themselves against the best around."
Stuart Lancaster's men, buoyed by impressive performances which gave them second place earlier this year in the Six Nations, will arrive for the Tests in Auckland, Dunedin and Hamilton with self-confidence, but they will no doubt be daunted by the current world champions; the imperious All Blacks won all of their 14 Tests in 2013, and have only lost once in their last 35 - but that was to England at Twickenham, in 2012.
The All Blacks avenged this loss last year, in a thrilling 30-22 scoreline at Twickenham, a game where Carter earned his 100th cap for his country - but was forced off with an injury.
Asked about his condition, Carter said: "I've been working hard on getting on top of a few injuries and niggles and just freshening up mentally."
England will hope that much of what Carter predicts will hold true: but they will certainly not want to come up against the left boot of one of the all-time greats in rugby union history.
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