The All Blacks are going through a bit of transitional pain as they revamp their attack game and blood a handful of youngsters.

Short term it may continue to be a roughish-kind of ride for the national team, with a few more clunky performances and possibly the odd defeat lying in wait.

But longer term, the pain is probably going to be worth it.

Longer term, and by that read 2019 World Cup, the All Blacks are maybe going to reap the benefits of what they are attempting to do this year.


And what exactly is it that they are doing?

Essentially two things.

The first is that they are building the skills, experience and understanding to work their way through defensive line speed.

A rush defence is the weapon of choice for most international teams now and especially when they play the All Blacks.

There's a reasonable chance that every team the All Blacks play this year will come at them hard off the line, believing that if they rush up, they can smother the key decision makers and play makers before they can execute anything.

The theory is simple - the All Blacks are the most dangerous side in the world when their attack game is allowed to flourish.

So don't let their attack flourish.

That's it, that's the way every opponent wants to play the All Blacks these days. Worry not so much about what they themselves do with the ball and instead focus more on what they are doing without it.


Rarely in the last six years has any side been able to 'out attack' the All Blacks.

Australia managed it once in 2015.

They are a natural ball-in-hand team that want to attack and in that first Bledisloe Cup clash of 2015, they out played and out scored the All Blacks in Sydney.

They opened the game right up, took risks and capitalised on opportunities better.

But they have only really managed it once in the last six years.

In Brisbane 2014 and Dunedin this year, they came within a couple of minutes of securing victories where they would have been able to say they beat the All Blacks at their own game.

The other defeats the All Blacks have suffered since 2012 have been inflicted by teams that have closed them down with the excellence of their defence, quality of their set piece and physicality in the collisions.

England in 2012, South Africa in 2014, Ireland in 2016 and the Lions in 2017 all won by going down the low-risk, attrition route first.

They shut the All Blacks down and stifled their attack while chipping away at the scoreboard and then slowly increasing their attack width the more they controlled the game.

If the All Blacks can find a way to consistently pass and run out of the clutches of a rush defence - what they are trying to perfect at the moment - they may well force the rest of the world to re-think.

What the All Blacks are also trying to do is to attack with such pace and directness that they can score on limited possession from almost anywhere on the field.

Again, if they can get that right, perfect it over the next two years, they may arrive in Japan playing a brand of rugby that no one else can contain or match.

It is, though, going to take time for them to learn their new craft.

It won't happen quickly or easily but the coaching staff think the change in philosophy is worthwhile and are prepared to invest in the journey to get where they want to be.

Linked into all of this is the evolving personnel. The All Blacks need to inject more experience into a handful of younger players.

Similar to 2015, they don't want to get to a World Cup with all their leadership and experience tied exclusively into older athletes. That's dangerous.

They will have begun this year with a plan to start building the experience of a handful of players - with their eye on tighthead, lock, blindside, wing and fullback.

Injuries, sabbaticals and personal dramas have seen some of those plans brought forward but the longer term premise is the same - they will be looking to invest in the likes of Nepo Laulala, Kane Hames, Scott Barrett, Liam Squire, Vaea Fifita, Lima Sopoaga, Anton Lienert-Brown, Rieko Ioane, Damian McKenzie and Jordie Barrett so as they reach 2019 with a squad of 31 players, all of whom have had reasonable exposure to test football.