ALL BLACKS No.8 Kieran Read has emphasised the need for improved discipline when the unbeaten world champions play away Tests against Argentina and South Africa in the next few weeks.
The All Blacks sit comfortably atop the Rugby Championship ladder with four wins from four matches but they were first to admit they got a bit lucky in Saturday’s 21-11 win over the Springboks in Dunedin.
The usually reliable Springboks’ kickers succeeded with only two of nine attempts under the roof at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, with eight of the misses coming from penalties.
The All Blacks play the fast-improving Pumas in La Plata in two weeks before travelling on to the republic for their final game in the Rugby Championship against South Africa.
And Read acknowledged they could not afford to give away so many penalties again.
“We wanted to match them (Springboks) at the breakdown and be physical at the tackle and sometimes you get a bit on edge and are likely to be penalised,” said Read.
“We have to be more disciplined so we’ll work on that.
“It was awesome for us that their kickers missed a few. But we’ve got to make sure we’re better than that and don’t concede so many penalties next time.
“You look at the statistics and, if they had kicked them we could have been in trouble.”
Read, 26, who has played in 42 Tests, said the Springboks and Pumas would present a major challenge in their own environment.
“The South Africans and Argentinians will both grow an arm and a leg at home,” he said. “The Pumas are improving quickly and it’s going to be a tough road trip for us. We’re going to have to be right on our game to match them.
“But the team is not far away from clicking and really putting in a great performance.”
Ultimately it was lack of discipline by replacement prop Dean Greyling that cost South Africa dearly.
He was charged with foul play by the citing commissioner on Sunday after being sin-binned by the referee late in the match for diving in and striking All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw with a forearm to the head at a breakdown.
There was little support for Greyling from South African coach Heyneke Meyer.
“I’m very big on discipline and I’m disappointed. I apologise to Richie. It came at an important stage of the game and certainly didn’t help our cause,” Meyer said.
McCaw suffered a haematoma on the thigh late in the game but should be fit to travel when All Blacks fly to Buenos Aires next Saturday.
Coach Steve Hansen said champion five eighth Dan Carter was still recovering from his calf muscle injury and a decision on his fitness would be made during the week.
It was possible the All Blacks would take three five-eighths – Carter, Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett – on tour and one of the five props would remain in New Zealand.