England's Barnes lauds All Blacks as greatest ever

The All Blacks are the most dominant team in rugby history according to former English flyhalf Stuart Barnes.

And the respected commentator has described Aaron Smith's contribution to the victory over South Africa in Christchurch as "one of the finest hours of international efforts from a scrum-half", praising his "hollering", communication, variety of passing and covering defence.

In a glowing tribute to the All Blacks at odds with some of the rugby world's reaction to them, Barnes said "the world's most influential player (Smith) was quite something to behold.

"(Coach Steve) Hansen asks an awful lot of his scrum-half. He is so good New Zealand trust him to do it all. He does most of it, most of the time. Not far behind was (Dane Coles)..."

Barnes was effusive in his praise for a number of players and the coaches, including the way they had filled in some gaps.

"Not so long ago the All Black set piece was their weak point. Their pyrotechnic attacking game had left the basics of the game behind. This management has addressed those issues," he wrote on skysports.com.

He did attempt to find a hole in the All Blacks' game.

" (England coach) Eddie Jones has pointed out that New Zealand was flawed but didn't wish to elaborate," Barnes wrote.

"Here is an observation Eddie might have kept to himself. It's pretty hard to get on their outside shoulder with the ball but - like Argentina - they showed that short pop passes on inside shoulders can create chaos.

"But you need to stretch them to create the necessary space between defenders for the likes of Habana and the more width on the game the more likely a New Zealand turnover and the possibility of tries against."

- NZ Herald

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