Adjustment speed key for All Blacks

Getty Images

Lynn McConnell     13 Sep 2017     Getty Images

All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock said ahead of the first Investec Rugby Championship between the two old rivals that teams were smart enough now to keep changing pictures making it harder for teams to read them.

"I think that's what good teams do, they make you make decisions whether it be under pressure through bringing line speed or them holding off," he said.

Whitelock said there was a developing confidence among the South Africans that he had detected in games for the Crusaders against the Lions, and in watching their games on television.

"When teams are confident things normally come off for them and from watching their first couple of games they are playing typical South African rugby. They're big strong guys, carrying hard and using their skill when they release the ball and go wide. I think that confidence is massive for them and for any team," he said.

The modus operandi of the All Blacks this year as opposed to last was fuelled by the drive to be continually getting better.

"We're always looking to see if there is a little bit extra that we can get better at right across the board, whether it be an individual, in our units of backs or forwards or as a team. That's the main thing, if there's one or two percent we can get better we're searching for that.

"At times it's hard, but when you do achieve it, it is great," he said.

Whitelock saw similarities between himself and the Springbok captain and lock Eben Etzebeth. They had both been selected early and gone through the steep learning curve associated with playing Test rugby. Etzebeth had grown and got really involved and seemed to be enjoying his leadership role in the side.

"When you're enjoying it, you're generally playing great rugby," he said.

Tests against the Springboks were ones that everyone wanted to be associated with. Throughout the history of rivalry between the countries it was the Springboks Tests that people talked about for 10, 20 or 30 years afterwards, he said.

"The thing I really love about it is they a big, strong guys and there's a physical battle and they really pride themselves on it so you always know it's going to be physical," he said.

Flanker Ardie Savea said he was happy with his starting role against Argentina and there were always lessons to be had and he was working on what he needed to and hopefully if selected at the weekend he would get a chance to build on that.

Starting was a little different to coming off the bench. "You get a chance to see how the game is unfolding and where you can add impact and get the boys up and when you're starting you're straight in there," he said.

Argentina had proven competitive at the breakdown and South African had players who were good over the ball so the All Blacks make sure they sort out their breakdown plays so they could play the rugby they wanted from it, he said.