The game certainly has changed since the 80's, commentators talk up the exploits of recently retired players like Johns and Thurston etc. yet seem to overlook the achievements of former players like Kenny and Sterling, who helped their team dominate for the best part of a decade.
The 80s & 90s crew didn't just dominate for their club teams either. They dominated at international level too. Thurston, Slater, Smith etc dropped more than their fair share of games & tournaments v Kiwis.