By Gregor Paul in Brisbane

Now is not the time to judge the All Blacks. Defeat to Australia highlighted not any chronic failing in their mental make-up, but simply that a handful of promising, emerging players need more exposure to test football.

The lack of clarity and good decision-making in the 23-18 loss confirmed rather than revealed that neither Lima Sopoaga nor Damian McKenzie are at the same level as Beauden Barrett.

Also highlighted was the gap between Scott Barrett and the at-home Brodie Retallick. It's not fair to be making comparisons. Not if the purpose is to say Barrett didn't deliver what Retallick always does or Sopoaga couldn't open the defence the way Barrett so often has.


Not fair because Retallick is six years into a test career that has seen him amass more than 60 test caps and be crowned World Player of the Year. Scott Barrett hasn't been an All Black for even a year.

It's a similar story when Sopoaga and Beauden Barrett are compared: the former was making just his second start in what is really only his second full season of test rugby.

The latter has been an All Black since 2012 and is the current World Player of the Year. Different players at vastly different stages of their respective careers.

It's possible, maybe even probable that had Beauden Barrett and Retallick both started in Brisbane the result may have been different. That, however, doesn't justify conclusions that either Sopoaga or Scott Barrett are failing in some way.

But what should be taken out of the Suncorp defeat is the need for the All Blacks to use the end of year tour to keep developing their options at first-five and lock.

They want/need to be less reliant on Barrett and Retallick - see the gap close between them and the next tier.

Sopoaga is the right player to develop as the next 10 and he's presumably going to be heavily involved over the next few weeks with three tests and two games to be negotiated.

Barrett himself was much like Sopoaga in his first few starts at No 10 in 2014. He struggled to impose himself, to drive the attack and manage the team with the sort of authority and poise everyone hoped.

The same true was of Aaron Cruden in 2012 when he began to start more regularly through Daniel Carter's endless injuries.

Patience and game time are the keys to getting Sopoaga to where he needs to be - where the All Blacks need him to be and they will hope to see him advance strongly in the next few weeks.

They hope that when the French come for their three test series in June next year, the difference between what Sopoaga and Barrett bring isn't so obvious.

And that's the same plan they have for their emerging locks. It's possible Retallick will stay at home in November - opening the door for Barrett and Patrick Tuipulotu to respectively fast track their work in Europe.

Again, the message from the All Blacks coaches is to hold off judging these young locks because at the end of next month, the picture will already look different.

The development process takes time and with the All Blacks facing a seven day bloc in November where they will play France, a French XV and Scotland, there is ample football opportunity for Barrett and Tuipulotu to make major gains.

"Obviously without letting out too much about what we are going to do with the squad, you won't want too many people playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday," says All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

"We will be taking a decent sized squad and be looking to be smart about we prepare both for the French game and the second game in Lyon and of course the third game [test versus Scotland]. It will require quite a bit of work from the staff and some good planning a lot of which we have done already. As long as we are flexible in our thinking we should be fine."