The furore over Beauden Barrett's goal kicking and the failure to attempt a dropped goal overshadowed a potentially more concerning aspect of the All Blacks' shock defeat to the Springboks.

That being defence.

Attacking with flair, scoring length-of-the-field tries from turnover possession, captivates everyone.


There is little doubt the All Blacks continue to set the bar when it comes to flamboyant skills across the park, especially in transition.

Tougher tests await, with the loss in Wellington the All Blacks' last home match this season. And while combating rush defence remains an issue, 20 tries in seven outings this year suggests their attacking game is close to where it needs to be.

Two tries from rolling mauls against the Boks is another nod to the variety of their threats.

The other side of the equation however is, in the last two weeks, we have perhaps seen where the All Blacks are missing Wayne Smith.

Results aside, conceding eight tries - three to Pumas, five to Boks - is far too many by All Blacks' standards.

Some individual defending has been sloppy. Some new systems exposed, too.

All Blacks Aftermath: All the fallout from the ABs' loss

This may be an aberration which will yet be rectified. But it may also indicate Smith's absence, and the clarity he brought to this area.


Such was their dominance of all statistical aspects last weekend, the All Blacks only made 61 tackles but still missed 12. The previous week in Nelson they missed 30 from 176, with fatigue probably a factor.

In the only change to All Blacks management since the World Cup, Scott McLeod assumed the defence brief at the end of last year's Rugby Championship. Together with the playing leadership group, he will be keen to see a return to the opening Bledisloe Cup victory in Sydney where the All Blacks made 105 of 118 tackles at 89 per cent.

That is where expectations sit.

Even with two Boks' tries coming from wayward passes, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was unequivocal why his side suffered their first defeat at home since 2009.

"We lost the game because we allowed South Africa to score 36 points and that's something that we can control as a team," Hansen said. "It's a team game."

Of particular concern will be the All Blacks' short-side defence.

Here they were exposed several times by the Pumas and Boks.

This happens when a lack of numbers is not identified and conveyed quickly or big men don't filter round the ruck fast enough, leaving the winger with two players to defend and scrambling to make all-or-nothing jam-in stops.

Switches of play from the breakdown have also caught the All Blacks napping.

Elsewhere the Pumas found success exploiting mismatches where front-rowers were left marking the likes of first five-eighth Nicolas Sanchez.

On Saturday, Rieko Ioane, the only defender on the blindside other than Aaron Smith, stood little chance stopping Malcolm Marx five metres out from a maul.

Overall, the All Blacks possess a group of largely attacking-minded players who must now bring that same enthusiasm to defence.

It is, after all, the greatest reflection of attitude, and usually a source of pride.

The other interesting spinoff is whether the loss to the Boks has any impact on selection plans over the final two rounds of the Rugby Championship.

Traditionally, the All Blacks use the trip to Buenos Aires to give fringe players starting chances, just aside they did in Nelson, before rolling out their full-strength team in South Africa the following week.

Clearly, though, the Pumas are on the rise under Mario Ledesma.

Victory over the Wallabies in Perth offered further proof, and they will now sniff a chance of a maiden win over the All Blacks.

We know Shannon Frizell or Jackson Hemopo will come in for injured blindside Liam Squire and with Joe Moody and Brodie Retallick out, others are already gaining valuable exposure.

Waisake Naholo and Sonny Bill Williams are strong contenders to comeback too.

Hansen is not one to have confidence rocked by a one-off result but, in light of the Pumas' improvement more so than defeat to the Boks, there may be a tad more conservatism compared to recent years.