With bedlam all around them, Kieran Read called his All Blacks in to a huddle on Soldier Field just after the fulltime whistle.

It takes an age sometimes for good news to be absorbed, but bad stuff has no such issues: the pain of defeat - of being the first All Blacks side in history to lose to Ireland - was instantaneous.

And it was while the emotion was so raw that Read asked each of his teammates to remember the feeling, to not hide from it, not try to curb it, but to instead channel it, process it and ultimately use it as the core of their motivation in two weeks when they will meet again in Ireland.

In the long term, defeat will be no bad thing for these All Blacks. It never is. Adversity is the best and maybe only true shaper of great athletes and great teams.


It's maybe even true to say this young All Blacks side needed a loss to be certain that test football is not always about them cantering away to big victories after 50 minutes. Maybe some younger players - older ones, too - needed that injection of emotional pain to recalibrate everything.

It's not as if complacency has been a factor - nor was it an issue in Chicago.

What defeat has done is give the coaches justification to labour points on the training field about the dangers that lurk. What defeat has done is give the leadership of the team a reference point to gauge how well set up they are to deal with the sort of sustained pressure Ireland exerted.

Forget the outcome, can they look each other in the eyes on Monday and say that they had been calm, collected and task-focused when they were chasing the game?

To some extent, the answer must be yes, because they did claw their way back from 30-8 down to 33-29 with 15 minutes left.

But when they needed one more try, they couldn't find it. When they needed that composure and clinical edge late in the game, they couldn't find it.

Much of this coming week will be spent asking why not.

"Our discipline didn't help but we still managed to get back into the game in the second half and you have to give credit to the Irish who, in the last 12 minutes, really put us under pressure and managed to score to keep that gap," said All Blacks vice-captain Ben Smith.

"We still had our chances in the second half and we still had the belief that we had to keep playing and attacking.

"We managed to stay focused on what we needed to do. But the Irish did well to find ways to turn the game in their favour and get the momentum back. We will have to see how we can get better."