We caught up with former All Blacks and Radio Sport commentary experts Ant Strachan and Steve Gordon to gather their opinions on the All Blacks' first-up win against South Africa.

Overall thoughts on the game

"It was a bit of a muddly game overall, a lot of errors.

"The first 15 minutes is what we expect from the South Africans, with how they have been defending in the last year. Very, very good defensively, particularly on the sidelines.


"South Africa use a high side defence, like a hinge, where they hit up really hard, meaning their wingers are up quite high. The All Blacks had done their homework, by using the space for cross-field kicks.

"Pieter-Steph du Toit, the South African No 7, is their defensive leader, he put the All Blacks under a lot of pressure, causing a few mistakes.

"However [the All Blacks] broke down their defence, when we moved the ball around and hung on to it for longer. We certainly had done some homework on them. The South Africans certainly got caught out, with Sevu Reece finding plenty of space."


"Outstanding by both sides, the physicality in the first 15 minutes was outstanding, the South Africans really came to play.

"An opener like that really tests individuals and systems that they want to carry into this tournament. It puts both teams in good stead going into the rest of the tournament.

"The All Blacks were on the game - they showed a little bit of rugby intelligence with their ability to turn defence into attack.

"There weren't many opportunites but their ability to change it up with a lot of variations to the game brought doubt and confusion to the South Africans."


Richie Mo'unga/Beauden Barrett combination

"It's certianly the way forward, I can't see them changing it for the big games. When it gets to the sharp end, you think that Barrett will be at fullback and Mo'unga at 10.

"With Aaron (Smith) playing nine he takes a bit of heat off them. Richie doesn't have to do a lot that a traditional 10 will do.

"Mo'unga is good at reading space, with great feet and the ability to shift the ball quickly, connecting it to the outside backs and launching our attack.

"Barrett is still a little suspect on defence, but overall pretty good."


"I'm still not sold but they are world class players.

"They need time in the middle, to understand the game better and learn how to play instinct. Beaudy is so good at it, but it's not until you are in the pressure cooker where it will kick in.

"Ben Smith's touches when he came on the field were brilliant, with his counter-attack."

Thoughts on Ryan Crotty

"He's the glue, a real leader with minimal mistakes. Between Mo'unga and Lienert-Brown he provides the midfield glue.

"He made a lot of tackles when South Africa were putting it to us at the start, and it's a nice combination with Sonny Bill Williams coming off the bench."


"I'm a huge fan of Crotty, with his ability to provide to players around him, I really like him there.

"Him and SBW bring different aspects to the game, with Williams breaking the defence and testing them out later in the game.

"He needs more game time with the players around him."

Their Man of the Match
Strachan - Ardie Savea

"His workrate, with the ability to get on the ball, he's got all the skills. He gets out wide in the channels playing as a back at times."

Gordon - Scott Barrett

"Going from lock to flanker he was great. His workrate off the ball, chasing kicks was outstanding."