Well, it must feel like a foul concoction to swallow right now, never mind keeping it down, but the All Blacks' loss to South Africa may prove to be the ideal elixir as the Rugby World Cup beckons in Japan.

How coach Steve Hansen and his men will exorcise their demons remains to be seen but the cup organisers won't need to sidestep the aura of invincibility surrounding the black machine any more.

Undoubtedly the 36-34 humdinger at the Cake Tin last Saturday is a promoter's dream even though I can't ever recall the need to urge fans to buy unsold seats to a top-tier test match in this country.

"I don't care who wins as long as I get to see a good rugby match," a grinning bloke pushing a trolley at a supermarket in Wellington said to me on Sunday.

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However, that sentiment obviously isn't a national anthem yet and the result is certainly an aberration in a game where just about every statistic favoured the All Blacks, bar the outcome.

I imagine every nation that fancies its chances of doing the unthinkable against the ABs will, under a quiet sense of self-assurance, be revisiting its blueprint for the World Cup.

The ABs do suffer from bouts of jangled nerves like any other gung-ho species in the orchestrated sporting jungle.

Dare I say it, the All Blacks will be tempted to bounce back emphatically against the Springboks in Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria on Sunday, October 7, after they have tut-tutted and tweaked their misfiring systems against upstarts Argentina at Buenos Aires on Sunday, September 30. While winning may reinforce a sense of self-belief it won't equate to World Cup insurance cover.

Frankly if the ABs stumble again Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her deputy, Winston Peters, will welcome the timely distraction amid suggestions of a rift developing in the coalition government.

In fact, the result flatters the ABs considering the Boks played a crucial part of 10 minutes of the test without fullback Willie Le Roux who sat in the naughty chair.

It's counterproductive to brainstorm matters pertaining to what-ifs. Was referee Nigel Owens right in his ruling of not just Le Roux but the rash of penalties he dished out against the Boks, including an unconvincing one on a defensive 5m scrum?

Owens is world class but prone to errors like every player, members of the coaching stable and match officials.

The South Africans, under the captaincy of Siya Kolisi, didn't spit the dummy when the whistle went against them. Instead, they retreated and regathered with renewed vigour.

Which brings us to the point of leadership among the Kiwis. Where was captain and nice guy Kieran Read when things looked out of kilter?

In fairness to Read, he put his body on the line but when the team looked rattled and disjointed the buck should have stopped with him.

The decisions on turning down penalty kicks and a dropped goal in the dying minutes but, more importantly, on persisting with Beauden Barrett as the go-to man when he was horribly out of form were all part of his portfolio on the paddock.

I suppose that argument can be taken to another level of accountability which rests with Hansen and Co.

The expressions on the faces of Beauden Barrett (left), Anton Lienert-Brown and Damian McKenzie says it all at the Cake Tin in Wellington last Saturday. Photo/Photo
The expressions on the faces of Beauden Barrett (left), Anton Lienert-Brown and Damian McKenzie says it all at the Cake Tin in Wellington last Saturday. Photo/Photo

Barrett's temperamental approach to kicking goals is something Hansen is still defensive about but, if anything, the bolshy Boks have accentuated frailties in the tactical facets of his play under duress. For the record, for all his endeavour Faf du Klerk wasn't too flashy with his kicks off the base of the scrum, either.

Even the much-idolised Daniel Carter wasn't exempt from such susceptibilities.

One would like to think any bromance New Zealand fans have with the Barrett boys will be put in perspective in the face of overwhelming evidence that Jordie isn't ready at fullback for the World Cup, although he may be capable with time. (By the way, Reiko Ioane was equally culpable for the howler when Jordie took a quick lineout throw that resulted in a bandit Boks try).

Hansen is assuming the mantle of mad scientist and he should have the full licence to conduct experiments leading to Japan.

Scribes are quick to tee up players as "world's best" but then mutating to Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges any time the proverbial hits the fan.

Beaudy Barrett's running brilliance, against lesser opposition, camouflaged the need for closer scrutiny of his repertoire.

Sir Brian Lochore, as chief guest of the Eagle Society of Hawke's Bay at its golf tourney in Napier last week, alluded to how Beaudy "was not the best kicker in New Zealand but he isn't far off". Well it's time for Beaudy to call Lochore's bluff, especially if Hansen remains steadfast on his prowess.

Despite the rash of penalties and a yellow card in crucial stages, the Springboks showed character in not spitting the dummy or losing their focus on the task at hand. Photo/Photosport
Despite the rash of penalties and a yellow card in crucial stages, the Springboks showed character in not spitting the dummy or losing their focus on the task at hand. Photo/Photosport

Where the Wallabies dread referring to the New Zealand team as "All Blacks", the South Africans simply brought a mongrel that was last evident when Ireland beat the ABs 40-29 in Chicago in late 2016.

The input of the likes of Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty, look-at-me Damian McKenzie, Jordie, Sam Cane and Owen Franks must be scrutinised. (SBW boosting a charitable cause by stepping into the boxing ring against an Aussie TV reality show bachelorette is a noble gesture and a good yardstick at where he is in his rugby career).

With Richie Mo'unga putting up his hand and Waisake Naholo bringing a physical presence suited to combating the Boks, Ben Smith is the first-choice fullback and Beauden his back up if a reshuffle is required. Jack Goodhue is pivotal to the permutations in the midfield dilemma.

In a cruel sort of way, Brodie Rettalick wearing the "water" bib also played its part in putting the ABs through the spin-dry cycle, akin to a dropped goal to the ABs which would have killed an upset that declared rugby the global winner.

The Northern Tour of England, Ireland and Italy in November will be the ideal sandpit to sort the boys from the men.

For what it's worth, the bumbling Boks aren't the finish article either so, again, it shows not every nation is preoccupied with collecting trinkets on the unpredictable four-year journey to the World Cup.

All Black Kieran Read (left) makes his point but, ironically, it was
All Black Kieran Read (left) makes his point but, ironically, it was "water boy" Brodie Retallick (in green) whose presence was sorely missed in the loss at the weekend. Photo/Photosport