There's always been an element of everyone being lulled into a false sense of superiority about the All Blacks at this time of year.

They tend to look more imposing than they really are at this early stage of the international season.

Rarely do they lose a June test. France beat them at Carisbrook in 2009 and the Lions won and drew a test last year.

But that's it – England, Ireland, Wales and France twice have been out here in June since 2012 for respective three test series and not won a game.


And nor have the All Blacks lost either the first or second Bledisloe test in non-World Cup years since 2009.

The only hiccup was a draw in the opening Bledisloe Cup test of 2014 but they still retained the trophy the following week with an epic destruction of the Wallabies at Eden Park.

Excitement tends to be high post Bledisloe as the picture often looks rosier than it is as typically the Northern Hemisphere sides, on the back of their gruelling domestic seasons, tend to only have one big performance in them and the Wallabies haven't managed to muster anywhere near enough resistance to properly test the All Blacks.

So the tendency is to get a little carried away and start thinking about an unbeaten season or, as it is only 12 months away, a third successful World Cup campaign.

But the next few months may reveal that this All Blacks side isn't quite as good as many believe it is.

The All Blacks haka. Photo / Getty
The All Blacks haka. Photo / Getty

They are not the indomitable force they appeared to be for long periods at Eden Park and by the time the Rugby Championship finishes, the prevailing view about how good they are may have to be revised down.

As Beauden Barrett himself said, the All Blacks were clunky and loose in the first half hour.

Their set piece attack was better than it had been in Sydney but not anywhere near as good as it needs to be.


They were, to some extent, a one-trick pony in that they pulled off guerrilla rugby as we have never seen it – picking off turnovers after their defence had been breached and converting to lightning quick attack mode.

They are brilliant at it but no one should get carried away because this false impression of being untouchable has typically been the way of things since 2012: the All Blacks look unbeatable in June and August and then slowly faults are exposed in the back half of the season as fatigue kicks in and opponents get better at anticipating what might be coming their way.

That may well prove to be the case again in 2018 as the important thing to note about their first five tests is that they haven't been put under any significant or prolonged pressure.

The French were hampered by wrongly shown yellow and red cards in the first two tests and then had nothing left by the third.

The Wallabies were only able to hang in for half an hour of the each Bledisloe Cup tests and then imploded.

The All Blacks face a ferocious challenge in their last five games – playing the Wallabies, Japan, England, Ireland and Italy in consecutive weeks and inevitably they won't have it easy in that period.

England and Ireland, on their respective home patches, are going to put the All Blacks under all sorts of pressure.

They will bring a physical intensity that the All Blacks haven't yet faced this year and a defensive onslaught that will cut down their time and space.

They will also be attacked at the tackled ball and while the All Blacks owned the Australians in that area, they are unlikely to be so dominant there against England and Ireland and unlikely to have such a good supply of turnover ball from which to attack.

Prior to that they face Argentina and South Africa in a two week block in New Zealand and then a two-week block on the road.

They will struggle to look as good against the Pumas because they will make significant changes in personnel to build their depth so the rhythm and flow will be compromised.

And with the Boks, they will face a team that usually, at least once, manages to play above itself against the All Blacks.

Probably in Pretoria, the Boks will fire up, play out their skins and make the All Blacks look decidedly more vulnerable than the Wallabies ever did.