Can the All Blacks get any better? Of course they can. Kris Shannon lists four areas where the All Blacks can improve following their 57-22 thrashing of Argentina.
1) Goal kicking
Let's start by stating the obvious: in a match that would be decided by a 35-point margin, leaving points on the tee was hardly a cardinal sin. And yet, before the unstoppable All Black
machine cranked into top gear, a couple of errant penalties from Beauden Barrett allowed Argentina to lead for almost the entire opening half hour. Surely, one day, these All Blacks might eventually face an opponent good enough to make them pay for those misses. Right?
2) Clinical edge
Also seems a little harsh, given the All Blacks conceded only eight penalties. But they were probably a little too ill-disciplined for the coaches' liking in the opening stages, as Nicolas Sanchez enjoyed opportunities from the tee to keep Argentina in touch heading into halftime. Again, the final result rendered any faults irrelevant, but the way the home side defended meant the Pumas were only ever going to remain in the game through multiples of three.
3) No 7 jersey
Now, we reach the only real concern arising from a convincing night in Hamilton. With Sam Cane's hamstring injury likely keeping him on the sidelines throughout the rest of the Rugby Championship, those fans clamouring for Ardie Savea's elevation to the starting XV are set to get their wish. But with many of Cane's best qualities often going unnoticed, will it be a case of only appreciating the calibre of the openside flanker once he's gone?
It's truly hard to find much else to quibble about in this current incarnation of the All Blacks, especially when compared to the standard in the rest of the competition. If Steve Hansen's men found the going easy against Australia and Argentina - teams who have in the last week beaten the travelling Springboks - then what's going to happen when the All Blacks finally get a taste of South Africa? Only mental lapses stand between them and the trophy.