The eternal battle for the All Blacks since 2012 has been finding a way to make the back half of their season look like the first and sustain their quality through to late November.

In the wake of their stunning record victory against South Africa, the question of how to push on and emulate the quality and intensity of their work in Albany in their next six tests is heavily occupying the minds of the All Blacks coaching staff.

This is the nut they are desperate to crack. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen doesn't want the 57-0 win over the Springboks to be the highest point of the season.

Or at least if it is, he doesn't want there to be an obvious drop in performance from here to the last game against Wales on November 26.


That's been the pattern since 2012 and the arrival of Argentina in the Rugby Championship.

The All Blacks have played their best rugby in the first half of their season and fallen into a slow decline in the second when they are mostly playing away from home.

Last year was the most stark example of that, where they destroyed everyone in the Rugby Championship but then lost to Ireland in November and were barely hanging on when they played France in their final test a few weeks later in Paris.

They hit the wall last year having seemingly been almost unbeatable. It may not feel that the All Blacks have tracked along similar lines this year, but they have.

It may not feel like it because there has been some negative commentary and a sense that the All Blacks have struggled at times. Yet the numbers show they have been just as dominant in the Rugby Championship in 2017 as they were in 2016.

After four Rugby Championship games last year the All Blacks were averaging 42 points and had scored 24 tries.

This year they are averaging 46 points after four games and have scored 27 tries. The only difference is that last year they had conceded an average of 13 points per game - a number which has jumped to 21 in 2017.

There's no question the overall picture in 2017 is actually largely similar and that the All Blacks have played plenty of good rugby in New Zealand. They have attacked with a new found potency and accuracy. They have found the ability to conjure tries more regularly and from deeper within their own territory.

It is a near ludicrous situation that they are getting close to averaging 50 points per game - especially when three of those tests were against the teams ranked three and four in the world.

"More of what we got last night would be good," said Hansen on what he would like to see from the All Blacks for the remainder of the year.

"The likelihood of that though is that it is going to be a tough ask because it was pretty good. Then you have to chuck in the fact we have seven test matches in nine weeks with 11 time changes. So how we manage it will be important.

"If we can keep our energy levels high and our desire to keep on improving high then that is what we will do. If we aim low we will hit low. If we aim high we will hit high. We have always tried to aim high."

Arguably it is the games against South Africa in Cape Town and Australia in Brisbane that the All Blacks will be most vulnerable.

They may have won the Rugby Championship by the time they head to South Africa and then they have to get home, have a few days off and head to the stifling heat of Brisbane to face a much improved Wallabies side with the Bledisloe Cup already secured.

That's why Hansen is talking about energy and desire because the players are going to need to generate that will to perform without there necessarily being a natural edge created by what is at stake.

That's also why they are likely to play around with selections over the next period - to not only keep players fresh but to create a sense of motivation.