Rugby Championship needs a shot in the arm
The All Blacks picked up their fifth Rugby Championship in six years, but despite their dominance, All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen believes South Africa, Australia and Argentina are still worthy opponents.
Hansen is being nice, of course, but the reality is that the other three teams still have a lot of catching up to do to make the tournament interesting again in terms of being more competitive..
New Zealand will end their 2017 Rugby Championship campaign against the Springboks at Newlands on Saturday after virtually securing the title again after four rounds of competition.
Probably the most eye-catching result of the competition was their 57-0 victory over the Boks in Round Three, which was a clear example of the gulf in class and professionalism between the two sides.
However, Hansen once again came to the defence of his opponents two days before their return match in Cape Town.
"The scoreline doesn't really indicate how tough the games are," said Hansen.
"It probably doesn't do you [media] and your fans over here any comfort but for us we know it was a tough game and it was physical.
"If they managed to take a couple of their opportunities that were there [in Albany], it could have been a whole different game.
"Yes, we have been fortunate is the last couple of years to play really well and win the thing but there is not that bigger gap. I don't think."
The All Blacks are clear favourites once again for Saturday's clash, but Hansen said the Boks have are a different beast at home. Although, Newlands might not bring too many home comforts for the Boks with the support the All Blacks receive in the Mother City.
"We are really looking forward to the game and we know there is a big challenge.
"We've never been disappointed by the Boks at home by their performances, so we know we are going to have to be at our very best, so we looking forward to it,' said Hansen.
By Warren Fortune