England sceptic Brodie Retallick now admits the tourists are as competitive and challenging to the All Blacks as South Africa and Australia.
Two Tests after being unable to name an England player, New Zealand lock Brodie Retallick has a new-found respect for England’s pace.
Retallick offered only "Michael Lawes" when asked if knew any of Stuart Lancaster's team, mistakenly referencing lock Courtney Lawes.
But after two fiercely contested Tests, Retallick appears to have changed his tune.
"They are right up there with the pace South Africa and Australia play at," Retallick said.
"From when we played them last autumn to these two games it's definitely been a lot faster than what it has been last year and the year before.”
New Zealand have wrapped up the three-match series with victories in Auckland and Dunedin, but Retallick is appreciative of a team beaten by just a point on Saturday.
"We've enjoyed the rivalry with England in this series,” he added. “These first two Tests have been pretty tough. No doubt the third one will be just as tough. It's definitely a good challenge for us."