'McCaw like' Retallick would be huge All Blacks' loss

Brodie Retallick takes in the deep breaths during New Zealand's 16-all draw with South Africa in Wellington, Jul 27, 2019 Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

With the next Test on the horizon for the All Blacks being Bledisloe I, I think you can forget whatever form has been shown by the Australians so far this season. It is an All Blacks-Wallabies Test, in Perth on Saturday week, and it is going to be a great battle.

The Bledisloe Cup is something New Zealanders hold dear to our hearts and coach Steve Hansen has indicated that there are two Cups the All Blacks want this year: The World Cup is one, the Bledisloe the other.

If we lost the Bledisloe Cup going into the World Cup, it would show the rest of the world that there is a chink in our armour. It is important to set goals, Hansen has made it clear to the All Blacks retaining the Bledisloe is one of them and thus they must achieve it.

Extending the sixteen-year reign is as much a mental thing as it is the prestige of the Bledisloe Cup.

South Africa put on a great first-half defensive performance against the All Blacks last weekend. They were unlucky not to get more points than they did, but they certainly proved their World Cup credentials; you are going to have to play well to beat them on any given day.

To me, the turning point in the game was Faf de Klerk going off for an HIA and then not returning. He was the best halfback on the field; his speed and decision-making were excellent. He operates at a different level.

De Klerk is only a small guy but, geez, he's a talent.

Something the All Blacks do need to address is the last two minutes of their games. Two weeks in a row New Zealand have had possession, but lost it through mistakes and the opposition had an opportunity to deny the All Blacks a win. The Pumas could have won in Buenos Aires.

And at the weekend it was a draw because the All Blacks were still playing like they were trying to score more points when they didn't need to.

They had the game won and probably the possession was more vital. They just needed to look after the ball for the last two minutes. They didn't need to score another try; they just needed to win the game.

Experience and on-field leadership will be vital come the World Cup. If it's time to shut up shop and hang onto the ball for the closing minutes, then do it.

The choice of Richie Mo'unga and Beauden Barrett at first five-eighth and fullback respectively increased the decision-making options. You could play Barrett anywhere, he's that dangerous. With a bit of space and his speed, he can just put the foot down and leave guys in his wake. It's a combination worth looking at.

Mo'unga deserved his start, too; it was interesting that he took over the goal-kicking duties from Barrett. That was a great call. As kickers you are either nailing them or you are slightly off; you can start playing mind games with yourself as a result.

I think it's great that Barrett said 'I've had enough of the mind games' and offered the ball to someone who was fresh and probably in a better state of mind, and let Mo'unga take it.

I don't think we should look too much more into it than that. No matter what you're doing, whether you're playing darts or you're putting on a golf course; if you miss one, miss a second, miss a third, all of a sudden you start having some doubt.

If it happens again, just pass the duty on and come back another day in a better state of mind.

It was the courage to actually do make that call that I respect. I think we need to realise that that is good leadership from either Kieran Read, or Barrett acknowledging that he had made a couple of mistakes.

When Brodie Retallick left the field I thought the Civil Defence warning sirens should have been going in Wellington because not having Retallick is a bit like a national crisis.

Just seeing him go off in clear agony, and then the wait to find out how bad the injury was, made me realise how vital he is to the All Blacks.

Richie McCaw fans won't appreciate me for saying it, but I believe in two, three or four years from now, Retallick is probably going to surpass McCaw as our greatest All Black. He is such an all-round player, he's a big man and he is the one player who strikes fear into the opposition when they come up against the All Blacks.

Retallick has the same presence as Martin Johnson did to the England team of 2003. He's the enforcer and here's hoping his recovery goes well and we see him tearing into defences in Japan.

I'd be a little bit nervous for Ben Smith; that's two games in a row when he hasn't really been at the top of his game. Under the high ball he's made a few errors, which is totally out of character for him. I don't know what's going wrong but I'm sure he's well aware of the need for improvement.

The line speed of the South Africans was quick. Their defence was brilliant and they shut Sonny Bill Williams down beautifully.

When you shut down Williams' space, you increase the chances of getting him ball-and-all and reduce his offload threat. While his performance might have drawn some criticism, much of it was down to the South African defence.

Williams needs game time. Whether it's a selection thing, or even if it is the end of the road, he's got to go back to Mitre 10 Cup and get his fitness up. I'm sure Steve Hansen has got a plan but in saying that, we've got a wealth of midfield talent in Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown and Ryan Crotty.

You've got to be the best if you want to play for the best.

We're talking about the World Cup. There's going to be some hard calls made and if this is an indication of the first one then so be it.