London — Wales star Sam Warburton has compared England to world champions New Zealand ahead of their Six Nations clash in Cardiff on Saturday.
Grand Slam champions England will arrive aiming for a 16th successive Test win.
The All Blacks hold the world record of 18 straight inter-national wins by a tier-one nation but another Six Nations clean sweep this season would see England go one better.
"England are deservedly tagged as the best team in the northern hemisphere," Warburton told the BBC. "It’s a fair judgment to compare them to the All Blacks right now — that’s how good they are.
"It is going to take a huge game out of us to get a win and it will be one of the biggest games of the championship for sure."
England have blossomed under Eddie Jones, with the Australian yet to lose a match as England boss after taking over after a 2015 World Cup where defeat by Wales prevented
England getting out of the group stage.
"If you’re Wales the biggest game you play in the Six Nations is England," Warburton said.
"If you’re Scotland, it’s England. If you’re Ireland, it’s
England. Or if you’re France or Italy, it’s England," said Warburton, whose father was born in England. "We know as players that’s the one game the fans look forward to most and you sense that in the build-up."
England, who beat Wales twice in 2016, started the defence of their Six Nations title with an unconvincing 19-16 win against France at Twickenham on Saturday.
By contrast, Wales launched their Six Nations with a 33-7
win away to Italy the following day that included 30 unanswered points in the second half in Rome.
England and Wales will name their teams on Thursday.