South Africa will be smelling blood as their scene-setting opening clash of the Rugby World Cup draws near.
Years of sure-footed All Black planning, the underpinning to some brilliant displays, has given way to nervy World Cup decision-making in the face of players going past their prime, and serious injuries.
Luke Jacobson's bizarre World Cup has hardly painted Steve Hansen's All Blacks in their most assured light, and it also reveal the scary truth about concussion in sport.
Jacobson would not have started against the Springboks in Yokohama on Saturday night but he was a bench prospect.
His withdrawal from the tournament, before a ball is kicked, is embarrassing.
That the finest sports medicine people and the most detailed of protocols could not spot Jacobson's head injury says a lot about the way sport can only pretend to know what to do about the mounting concussion issue.
If fine minds with plenty of time can get it so wrong, how can anyone trust those rushed HIAs during matches?
Furthermore, what chance does the amateur team at the local reserve have in protecting players from the horrors of brain injury, when the sport's most professional outfit turns up at a World Cup with a man who is clearly unfit to play?
Jacobson was supposedly fine after the test - to use the word lightly – against Tonga in Hamilton. Days later, in Japan, he was a dizzy light headed mess. That takes some explaining, and he was a bolter selection not worthy of major risk anyway.
I'd argue that given Jacobson's serious concussion history, and lack of All Black preparedness, and considering that he is not a genuine No 6 anyway, he should not have been there in the first place.
Rumours continue to swirl about Sonny Bill Williams' fitness, quite naturally given his history.
Brodie Retallick is being carried through the pool stage although the great lock believes his injured shoulder may be repaired in time for the last pool game against Italy.
But his readiness for the cut-throat games must still be in major doubt, in a squad with two rookie tighthead props who have been rushed into the World Cup on short notice, their development also delayed by injuries.
The backline is hardly a settled thing of settled beauty either.
And that test against Tonga turned out to be a joke, a romp that will have done nothing to prepare the All Blacks against a South African team which has already played the hosts to help their acclimatisation.
South Africa have so much to gain if they can win the opener. Psychologically, their rugby has been damaged by years of playing second fiddle to New Zealand.
Game day awaits, with another epic encounter in store, but it is slight advantage to South Africa in the build-up.
English columnist Stuart Barnes, a former test back, has advised teams which come up against the world champions: "Don't call them the All Blacks. Think of them as New Zealand – a little country at the bottom of the world."
This is a very old fashioned view of the All Black aura. Modern teams don't really give a stuff about the All Black title.
Australia, South Africa, Ireland, the Lions…they've all dealt to the All Blacks in recent years, including in New Zealand.
The world rankings might be silly, but the relegation of the All Blacks from the number one spot does indicate that something significant has gone on.
I thought his other ideas were spot on though.
Slow the game down – that's the big one. But everyone knows that. Expect a few boot problems, extra injures, long discussions with referees. Cramp is always a good one.
As for the little country business, fair enough. That's what New Zealand is.
But the way Brexit is going, the rest of us are looking at England as a little country at the top of the world.
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