New Zealand may be ranked No.1 in the world, ahead by some distance, but Australia is fast making up lost ground.
This is the view of All Black assistant coach Ian Foster, who was speaking to the media as the Kiwis started preparing for their Bledisloe Cup opener against the Wallabies next August.
The Aussies are on a seven-Test winning streak, but have not claimed Bledisloe Cup glory since 2002.
Foster knows they will provide a threat to Steve Hansen's All Blacks, though, and he believes the Waratahs' progression into the Super Rugby Final could be a factor.
"Clearly they have made some gains and they are a lot more comfortable with how they do things and I think the Waratahs' success is going to boost their confidence a little," Foster said.
"But we're also equally happy with where we are at. We're showing some signs.
"We finished June in a reasonably good spot probably similar to them in some ways so we are probably going to both go in pretty well prepared which is maybe a little bit different to 12 months ago."
The All Blacks got down to business this week as they look towards the fast approaching Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup.
The 31-man squad is without the eight Crusaders players, who left for Sydney on Wednesday for a tilt at the Super Rugby title against the Waratahs on Saturday.
Their absence has allowed the All Black coaches to bring in players who could possibly play in the Black jersey in the near future.
Nathan Harris, Harris, Motu Matu'u, Pauliasi Manu, Kane Hames, Jeremy Thrush, Liam Squire and Shane Christie are part of this week's camp in Auckland.
Foster said they are keen to get a taste of the environment.
"It's a chance for them to have a look at it and hopefully that prepares them a bit better if they get a future opportunity.
"They're here for a reason, they've shown really good signs during the Super Rugby and it's a chance for us with numbers down to expose them and learn a bit about them."
Source: ONE News