New Zealand rugby 'DNA' sets All Blacks apart at Test level

Who would have believed after the intensity of South Africa's start to the Test against the All Blacks that the score would blow out the way it did.

In the first 10-15 minutes, I thought things were looking interesting. At the first scrum, the Springboks put it on the All Blacks in impressive fashion and I thought New Zealand were in for a tough game. But then the tries just came too easily. The All Blacks' forwards responded from that first scrum and rolled their sleeves up, and that was probably most obvious in the lineouts where the usually formidable Springboks were made to look ordinary.

Backing that up was the class of the All Blacks backline, and their attacking firepower. The platform was definitely laid up front, but the vision from Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett was just outstanding; just choosing their moments and when to strike, the accuracy they played with was incredible. By comparison, the South Africans looked as if they didn't want to play.

The All Blacks had options everywhere. Whenever there was a half-break or a sniff of an opportunity on attack, everyone was lining up to be part of it while the South Africans were looking at each other as if to say 'who wants it or who's going to do something?' There was no fluidity to their approach. You could see the Springboks were wanting to play an up-tempo game, but they ran out of ideas and were looking for someone else to do the job.

The thing that many critics around the world don't appreciate is that this sort of rugby in New Zealand is not played just by the All Blacks. It is in our rugby DNA. Opposing sides can't expect to make a style change and have it click into place. These things take years, and it helps if you are encouraged to play that way from your first taste of the game.

That doesn't mean to say they can't do the hard work up front. That was what the forwards did on Saturday. But you could see everyone in the forward pack putting their hands up to say they wanted to have a crack with the ball in hand.

The difference for me was the speed at which the game was played. Aaron Smith dictated that, he controlled the way the game flowed. The Springboks were stop-start, breakdown, slow again; the All Blacks' defence was all organised as a result.

The 57 points is one thing but to go into a Test match and come away with zero, that's a huge downer for South Africa. That would be one of the biggest embarrassments for any national side. I've got a lot of South African mates who are just embarrassed.

If you look at the state of South African rugby, they've got one good side in the Lions, but then there's a drop-off to second, third, fourth and fifth. And you can see that filtering down now; the talent pool coming through is very, very small. There are also so many players off-shore now, and that highlights a much bigger problem.

New Zealand is very strong, and a game between NZ A and NZ B would have appeal of its own because we know it would be competitive.

The base of that strength is having five very good franchises in Super Rugby. It's worth remembering that while Australia and South Africa have been up and down with their teams in Super Rugby, New Zealand have been consistent with their five. The others have been bickering and fighting around their teams while New Zealand have got it right.

There was a lot of attention paid to Kane Hames' after he called out a writer before the Test. He probably wishes he didn't say that now. His introduction to starting in Test rugby was a bit of a baptism of fire. The first scrum was a little bit hairy; his penalty count was up there, too. He probably learnt it's best if you stay out of that, and just focus on doing the job. All Hames can control is how he plays on the field, not what anyone writes in the media.

I suppose that's why most All Blacks just keep their head down and go about their business because it invites attention when you speak out. It was naivety on his part and now he will realise that the media will do what they are going to do regardless. The only way you can talk is through your performance. That's what rugby players have come to know. Olo Brown and a few others never spoke to the press and quite often there was never a bad word said about them either.

Hames did show potential however, and he got better and better until he was substituted. The introduction to Test rugby is never easy, very few people get it exactly right on their first outing.

Ofa Tu'ungafasi, who I have had a question mark over, delivered when he came on in Albany. He made a statement, which proves a belief I have always held that tight forwards can be manufactured. If you've got the frame, the strength, the height, then you can develop those attributes and create good players. Set-piece play is something that is learned over time, and if a player has the right ticker and a decent brain they're very coachable. It looks like Ofa Tu'ungafasi has been well coached and he's starting to come good.

Sam Cane is another player whose ability is not always obvious. Sometimes when you are watching rugby you can't actually see physical strength. You don't know how hard people hit or just how strong they are, but Sam Cane has got a lot of respect with his peers. He's an uncompromising No.7; he's world-class.

And then you look at someone like Scott Barrett. Well, all those Barrett boys have been a revelation. When Scott scored his try, he showed a ton of pace and balance. Coming on for Liam Squire, who is a raw-boned No.6 and someone who reminds me a bit of Mark 'Cowboy' Shaw in the way he plays, Barrett played exceptionally well.

Meanwhile, brother Beauden answered all the critics with his goal-kicking. There is nothing you can say, no criticism, he just had a near-perfect game. A few people were had raised doubts about Beauden, but hopefully that conversation doesn't come up again this year. He proved the doubters wrong.

There was an interesting lesson in his backhand pass to Nehe Milner-Skudder for the winger's first try. Milner-Skudder didn't appear to expect the pass because he probably thought Barrett could go all the way. But when it came, his reaction was perfect. That was because the players know to always expect a pass, and never to take their eye off the ball.

It was something many of us learnt playing with Carlos Spencer years ago. You never knew what he might do so you had to be ready. It was just that naturally instinctive nature and it was fantastic to see. And it left another dumbfounded look on South African faces as if to say, 'what the hell was that?'

Rieko Ioane may only be 20 but he's already a dangerous winger. Jonah Lomu at the same age was still finding his feet; Rieko will be a good player when he grows up.

When you look at South Africa's situation, the road to recovery starts with their governance. Can the Springboks come back from this? Yes, the team can improve. But can they ever be competitive with the All Blacks? They might be now and again, but really the structures in South Africa rugby are just going to get weaker and weaker unless something is done.

The reason New Zealand is so strong is the foundation. The club rugby, through the Mitre 10 Cup which is the backbone behind what emerges in Super Rugby, and then the All Blacks. And right now the Mitre 10 Cup is throwing out the best games we've seen in years which just goes to show the talent pool is not getting any weaker, it's getting stronger. Competition is what it is all about.