We're five tests into the year after the exodus of some pretty important players in the All Black make-up over the last decade or more, and the team have adapted superbly to the changing of the guard.

Against Wales in June, their first tests of the year with a new squad, they were trying to find their rhythm, not trying to be too expansive or over-creative. They also knew they were going to be pressured as Wales are a good, well-coached, side, and they coped with it well.

There was an edge about them during that week in Sydney before the first test against Australia. They arrived much earlier than usual and were aware that the Wallabies were capable but also vulnerable. That meant they prepared well and as a result were easily the best team there and the week later in Wellington when they again comprehensively won despite the opposition's attempt to unsettle them.

So far they have used a reasonably reserved game plan. They are getting by with doing the basics very well. We have seen the full array of their skills - offloading, passing in tackle and so on, and at times it has been incredible -but we haven't really seen anything different.


There have been no creative moves off set pieces, or World Cup innovations such as the involvement of their wings close to the breakdown, and the resulting variations of short passes or decoy moves.

I expect some evolution if conditions allow at Waikato Stadium against Argentina. I think they will look to change things up a bit. They have had some issues in terms of injuries - there has been change in the midfield with Sonny Bill Williams out and Ryan Crotty missing recently. They have also had to do without Nehe Milner-Skudder on the right wing and cope with the successful introduction of Israel Dagg there, a player who offers something different in terms of his counter-attack and kicking ability.

So, having come through those changes, I expect some innovation. There are too many great minds involved with the team, including assistant coach Wayne Smith who is always working away in the background, for them to stay static.

I think their set piece is going so well we may see some variations there and possibly around No8 Kieran Read and halfback Aaron Smith from the back of the scrum where there is more space these days.

If it was me, I would want to get their wings into the game more. There are ways they can inject these players who need to get hands on ball more, particularly Julian Savea, but they can do it in intelligent ways, rather than using them as battering rams. Put them into positions to set up other players rather than constantly being on end of chain. It's about staying ahead of the pack, and the All Blacks have shown recently that they are very capable of doing that.