As Steve Hansen had a crack at himself and his team for their lack of game management in the defeat to the Springboks in Wellington, he also fired a shot at the critics blaming the loss on the retirement of defence guru Wayne Smith.

In this Hansen is dead right because while the All Blacks leaked five tries in the 36-34 defeat, it wasn't a failure of the system put together by former midfielder Scott McLeod that was to blame, it was the failure to make tackles at important times and even here not many were missed.

Yes, Smith was a big loss because of his knowledge and experience and ability to get that across to his players. From a pure teaching perspective there have been few better involved with the All Blacks.

But McLeod, a 45-year-old 10-test All Black who has been coaching fulltime with the national team since last year's November tour, isn't to blame for an opposition team racking up the most points ever against the All Blacks at home.

All Blacks defence coach Scott McLeod and head coach Steve Hansen. Photo / Getty
All Blacks defence coach Scott McLeod and head coach Steve Hansen. Photo / Getty

The Boks, remember, were gifted two tries through an intercept pass from Anton Lienert-Brown and a quick throw-in snafu between Jordie Barrett and Rieko Ioane. They scored another via a driving maul.

Which leaves two tries scored by left wing Aphiwe Dyantyi. The first came from phase play via a simple three on two situation in which Ben Smith and Jordie Barrett were caught short on the blindside – probably a failure of communication on the part of the All Blacks.

The second came in the second half when Dyantyi stepped inside Beauden Barrett close to the touchline for a try; a case of a brilliant piece of timing and deception proving to be the difference because, and this is a key point, the No11 was in theory covered from a defensive perspective.

"There's been a lot of talk about our defence coach and Wayne Smith is being missed," Hansen said before getting on the plane with his team to Buenos Aires where they will play Argentina next Sunday.

"Look, our defence coach I think is going to be one of the best coaches in the world given a bit of time. He's doing a fantastic job. Yeah we let in five tries but two of them were from attacks… It's too easy to blame our defence coach like many people have so if people could stop doing that that would be good."

Counts vary, but the All Blacks missed no more than 12 tackles against the Boks. Hansen thought the figure was nearer to eight. The South Africans, meanwhile, missed nearly 40.

The only defensive system failure came when the All Blacks were caught short on the blindside for Dyantyi's first try. It's here that the All Blacks themselves are usually so lethal. There's no secret to their attacking ability – they tend to do the simple things well and if you do that often enough opposition teams can be exposed.

Because of the defensive pressure the All Blacks put on – referred to recently by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika after the 40-12 Bledisloe Cup demolition at Eden Park – opposition teams often struggle to build phases to stress the All Blacks sufficiently.

This time South Africa did – twice – and they won as a result and for that they should be applauded. But it wasn't a system failure.