All power to South Africa and their inspirational captain Siya Kolisi for a stirring victory in a gripping test match. BUT...

What the heck were some of those All Black selections about?

It's not the All Black players who got carried away with their invincibility. It's the coaches this time, and their complacency may have seeped onto the field.

Jack Goodhue made an absolute monkey, mockery or whatever description you like of Steve Hansen's decision to leave him on the bench. An absolute mockery.


Having just established himself as the best All Black centre by three country miles, Goodhue was needlessly benched for the more wispy charms of Anton Lienert-Brown.

This argument isn't about winning or losing. It's about quality of selections, building a World Cup team.

There's a headline somewhere about Hansen defending Beauden Barrett. Hansen needs to defend himself. Okay, so Barrett hit the post, but Hansen hit an air shot.

He is, for my money, the greatest All Black coach. But it doesn't mean he's untouchable.

The power-packed Goodhue is a rising star full of energy, playing out of his skin, with only a year or so to get primed for the World Cup.

What is the point of establishing a combination between Ryan Crotty and Anton Lienert-Brown? The backline should be built around Goodhue, particularly with Sonny Bill Williams always in the casualty ward.

The straight running Goodhue was fantastic when he came on against the Boks, changed the flow, the energy. Lienert-Brown, who has thrived playing off the bench, looked lost.

I love the way the All Blacks keep pushing the envelope attack wise, even if it does carry a risk which didn't quite come off against the Boks this time. Rugby needs that All Black endeavour.


But Goodhue plays the percentages so well. He's the perfect straight man for the wonderful chaos around him, a balancing act for Rieko Ioane's ego, Barrett's flights of fancy, the frantic Ben Smith, the passing parade of second five-eighths, the ever-changing back three. Every backline needs a selfless rock.

South Africa's Siya Kolisi in action. Photo / Photosport
South Africa's Siya Kolisi in action. Photo / Photosport

As for Jordie Barrett at fullback – ridiculous.

He's not on the same planet as Ben Smith in the No 15 jersey, while a brilliant attacker like Waisake Naholo – who is also a clever turnover merchant – exits. Jordie Barrett's superior goalkicking wasn't even utilised.

It was a ripper of a test match, and the emotional Springbok response to victory an antidote to what had been a relentless All Black march through opponents.

Kolisi, the first black captain of the Springboks, has achieved so much for himself and his country. He has also endured a lot, including disgusting abuse for being in a mixed race marriage.

The Kolisi story includes the powerful friendship, from schooldays, with the outstanding Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth, two men of very different backgrounds.

Etzebeth was among the players replaced by Kolisi as captain by new coach Rassie Erasmus, after which the big forward said of Kolisi: "Can I say I love another man? Because I really love the guy. It's awesome for me to see him as captain, leading this team. I'll be there to back him up all the way."

Sometimes South Africa plays as if they are backing each other up, and sometimes they are like the unacquainted early arrivals trying to warm a party up.

Unlike New Zealand, they can struggle to maintain standards against lesser opposition. But on their day watch out.

South Africa found their mojo during the game in Wellington, relying on those terrific power forwards, not overplaying their hand in the backs and defending en masse and via sharp reads.

In the finest traditions of Bryan Habana, there is nothing wrong with relying on the opportunism which helped them to victory either.

The All Blacks and South Africa are my picks to meet in the World Cup final next year.

But the Springboks are so erratic (as is the overall Rugby Championship form) that it is still hard to know if they are on a more successful track.

The most reliable factor in world rugby is the superbly marshalled skill, cohesion and commitment of the All Blacks. Saturday night, on its own, doesn't change that.