Brad Lewis: All Blacks far from 'vulnerable' rugby force

OPINION: The word 'vulnerable' has been bandied about by former rugby-pros-turned-pundits in recent days regarding this current All Blacks side.

Following the world champions' 16-15 win over England at Twickenham, with a very good Ireland side looming on Sunday (NZT), this two-week period could be as tough as it gets for the All Blacks in the lead-up to the World Cup.

But are they any more vulnerable than 2017, 2016 or 2015? Nope.

The All Blacks are not going to win every test by 30 points, as most fans would have you believe.

Last week, talkback radio was full of punters predicting a Pommy shellacking at the hands of Steve Hansen's black army, which was never going to happen.

You have to question how much the average rugby fan in New Zealand knows about the European game. A little advice, people - just because you haven't heard of the guy before doesn't mean he can't play.

Case in point, Sam Underhill, who went blow for blow with an outstanding All Blacks loose-forward trio on Sunday morning.

In reality, this version of the All Blacks is no more under threat on any given day than the great teams of the past.

New Zealand's domination of world rugby has left some haters/doubters/wishful thinkers proclaiming the dynasty is coming to an end.

Hello people, the All Blacks 'dynasty' is more than 100 years old, and it won't be dying in our lifetimes or our children's.

In the past 40 years, probably the only losing season was 1998, when John Hart's side was decimated by the retirements of Frank Bunce, Zinzan Brooke and Sean Fitzpatrick within months of each other.

Five straight test losses caused a nationwide panic, but within a year, the ABs were back to their winning ways. Granted, there was a World Cup failure - and a couple before and after - but they still won 90 percent of their games.

This All Blacks squad is not a lock to win a third straight World Cup, but between them and the field, I'd be putting my money on a three-peat.

The All Blacks will always produce one or two shaky performances a year. This year, if anything, their worst performance was their stunning victory over the Springboks in Pretoria.

Their remarkable comeback win gained a measure of revenge for the loss in Wellington a few weeks prior.

The All Blacks certainly weren't shaky against England. The Poms started like a house on fire, but they couldn't maintain that assault and Kieran Read calmly got his boys back in the fight, ultimately and deservedly winning the game.

I'm not buying that 'England were robbed' narrative - look at the stats and the ABs won all the important ones on the day.

A month before 2011 World Cup glory, the All Blacks were well beaten by the Wallabies in Brisbane and were said to be vulnerable. Well, they side-stepped a choke job in the final and prevailed - finally.

The story was similar four years later, when Australia tripped up New Zealand in Sydney and two months later, the All Blacks bulldozed through to a World Cup title defence.

These pundits claiming vulnerability in this All Blacks side are clutching, not at straws, but reality.

Crunch test matches are won and lost on experience, skill and a little bit of luck, and the 2018 All Blacks have all of those in abundance.

They might not beat Ireland this weekend, they might not win the World Cup in Japan next year, but they will be the dominant force in international rugby before, during and after.

Just as they have the past 100 years.

Brad Lewis is a Newshub online sports producer. Join us at 7:30am Sunday for live updates of the All Blacks vs Ireland at Dublin.