All Blacks given World Cup warning

It is rare indeed these days for the All Blacks to drop a test match, particularly at home.

Not like the 1970s and 1980s when matches were lost on a semi-regular basis to France, Australia, the British and Irish Lions and midweek tour games in France, Wales and England.

Saturday’s defeat by the Springboks in Wellington was a result very few pundits saw coming.

When the All Blacks rushed out to a 12-0 lead within 10 minutes it looked like another of those nights when the once proud Springboks would just roll over and take a hiding, like they did last year losing 57-0 in Albany.

But under astute coach Rassie Erasmus and inspirational captain Siya Kolisi, there is far more substance to this Boks team than they showed in losing to the woeful Wallabies a week earlier.

Very few teams have been able to put the All Blacks under enough pressure or defend with vigour for 80 minutes like they did. Ireland have done it twice in recent seasons, Scotland and the British and Irish Lions did last year and you can bet that England and Scotland will do so in November.

Some of the All Blacks looked anything but superstars once the blow torch went on them in Wellington.

The three Barrett brothers again lined up for the All Blacks but this was an occasion the family will collectively want to eradicate from the memory vaults.

Lock Scott was reliable as always but superstar first-five Beauden and fullback Jordie had their worst games in the jersey.

How Jordie gets selected for the All Blacks has always amazed me. Why is the world’s best fullback Ben Smith shifted out to the wing (where he is, of course, still a class act) and replaced by Jordie, who grew up playing in midfield?

Either Waisake Naholo or Nehi Milner-Skudder should be in the 14 jersey.

Jordie’s decision to foolishly throw the ball in for a quick lineout, under extreme pressure with almost no one back in cover, gifted the Springboks their second try and changed the momentum of the match.

Still, Jordie’s blushes would have been erased if his big brother Beauden had kicked for goal with more accuracy. He missed four conversions that you would expect an All Black to convert and in the final wash his sloppy goal kicking lost the test.

The All Blacks had plenty of chances to nail the match in the final few minutes as they attacked the Springboks line.

But in a throwback to the inept World Cup loss to France in 2007 there was no leadership from Beauden to stand up and demand the ball to win the game with a drop goal.

In the 2015 Rugby World Cup final the drop goal kicked by Dan Carter in the final against Australia was vital to the eventual victory. Saturday’s defeat to the Springboks shows us all that the old-fashioned ‘droppie’ still has a place in the game.

The loss also heightens just how vulnerable any team is – yes, even the All Blacks – to a one-off knock-out match.

The Springboks are unlikely to ever beat the All Blacks if they played in a three-match series but they are capable of knocking us out of the World Cup in Japan next year.

We have been warned.