Christchurch - Ace flyhalf Dan Carter has put the brakes on praise for the
All Blacks 39-18 demolition of Argentina on Friday, saying they were well short
of the level required to defend their Rugby World Cup crown.
The reigning world champions would also need to improve considerably just to
foot it with South Africa when they clash in Johannesburg next week, he said.
Coach Steve Hansen said he was "very, very happy" to see the
error-filled performance against Samoa the previous week replaced in their
Rugby Championship opener by a five-tries-to-two win over the Pumas.
"We went up four or five gears and we needed to, to be honest,"
The New Zealand media also applauded the performance with the New Zealand
Herald saying the All Blacks had transformed themselves "from dithering to
But the 33-year-old Carter, a 104-Test veteran, was considerably more
circumspect when he rated the side's performance.
"Well and truly, a lot," he said when asked if much improvement
was needed before the World Cup begins in England in two months.
"It's still early days, only our second Test match of the year and we
realise we've got to keep moving in the right direction.
"The big thing was we stepped up from our game in Samoa last week and
each game that we play we've got to keep improving obviously for the big
tournament later in the year."
The All Blacks have only three more Tests - first against South Africa and
then twice against Australia - to impress Hansen before he names his 31-man
World Cup squad.
Carter said that after the full-time whistle against Argentina, the All
Blacks immediately began talking about the need for "a huge step up"
in skill level for the Springboks Test.
"We talked briefly in the changing room about that and last time we
played them they got the wood on us and beat us so it's going to be a huge week
and obviously we're going to have to travel well, recover and prepare well for
what's going to be a huge Test match."
Hansen, who delivered a broadside about the legality of the lineout drive -
the ploy used by Argentina for both their tries - said that was one area the
All Blacks needed to focus on.
"They were pretty soft tries and if we were under any illusions about
what South Africa are going to do... we know that they will scrum for some
penalties, they will kick for lineouts and they will drive," he said.
"One of the key things we didn't do quite right (against Argentina) was
to try to break it down early enough.
"I'm not talking about doing it illegally but we just didn't get in on
the ball or on their wedges quick enough and they got a platform set and as
soon as they took it off centre we were in trouble."