There was plenty to celebrate for the All Blacks as they retained the Rugby Championship with a dominant victory over Argentina in Buenos Aires, but the predominant feeling within the squad as they rested their bruised bodies in the shed was righting the wrong against South Africa.

That thought resided strongly within halfback TJ Perenara despite the fact he had just played his 50th test, a feat worthy of reflection coming as it did on the back of an excellent personal performance in the 35-17 win at Estadio José Amalfitani.

But that two-point defeat in Wellington to the Boks a fortnight ago still stings, and it will be a major driver over the next few days as the All Blacks make their way to Pretoria for Sunday's test at Loftus Versfeld, the last of the Rugby Championship.

Perenara was on the field at the end at Westpac Stadium as the game slipped from the All Blacks in the face of an inspired defensive effort. As a senior player and a key one in terms of decision-making, he probably carries the responsibility for the defeat heavier than most, so it's perhaps not surprising that his attention is already on next weekend.


"We're so focused on the next job and winning games and being the best footy players that we can be that we don't often have time to reflect on what we've achieved," Perenara said. "It's similar to the case now; we've finished that game and my mind's not about my 50th game, my mind's on next week in Pretoria and trying to right a wrong from a couple of weeks ago.

"That will be a part of the motivation. Knowing they beat us a couple of weeks ago is disappointing and it hurts. Our major motivator is that we want to be better than we were the week before … if we don't improve on what we did tonight that's a failure for us. We need to be growing day to day and week to week."

All Blacks TJ Perenara is already thinking about avenging the loss to the Springboks. Photo / Photosport
All Blacks TJ Perenara is already thinking about avenging the loss to the Springboks. Photo / Photosport

No 8 Ardie Savea, a revelation at the back of the scrum after getting a late call-up from the reserves bench due to Luke Whitelock's illness, was even more pointed when asked about the Boks, lying in wait after dispatching Australia 23-12 in Port Elizabeth.

"We owe them one," Savea said.

Coach Steve Hansen, a man who likes to keep things in perspective, will have been determined to celebrate the many success stories from the test, such as the first-half defensive effort, the performance of the pack in demolishing the Pumas scrum, and Beauden Barrett's flawless performance from the kicking tee.

But he too sounded relatively subdued afterwards, as though he was mulling over the next challenge. The pressure will be mainly on South Africa to repeat their performance in Wellington against a highly-motivated team but another defeat for the All Blacks would consign this Championship into the failure department despite their trophy win.

Barrett's turnaround from kicking at 33 per cent against the Boks to 100 per cent against the Pumas will add a sense of comfort to Hansen and his assistants as they make their way to Pretoria, and for Hurricanes and All Blacks teammate Perenara, it was no surprise at all.

"I thought Baz played great in Wellington – he missed a couple of kicks that he'll be disappointed in but he comes out here and he kicks 100 per cent," he said.


"That's the kind of character he is; he doesn't read too much into the hype or what the media say or what you guys or the critics say. He does his job. Every now and then he'll miss a couple of kicks, but that's part of being a goalkicker ... Beauden Barrett is probably one of the best players to play the game. To be in his team Super Rugby-wise and internationally, it's a pleasure."