Three wins from three but the All Blacks believe they’ve let themselves down with their start to 2015.
Centre Conrad Smith is none too pleased with what the world champions have produced in wins over Samoa, Argentina and South Africa and was particularly hard on himself.
He has called for standards to lift across the board when they meet unbeaten Australia in Sydney on Saturday to fight out the Rugby Championship title.
New Zealand were out-muscled in the second half in Apia, were patchy for periods against the Pumas and despite the good press following their 27-20 win over South Africa at Ellis Park, there were plenty of dropped heads during the review process.
“All Blacks sides are good at looking past results and at performance,” Smith said.
“If anything, we’ve been critical of the way we played in Johannesburg because there was a lot that we didn’t do right.
“It is a tough place to win so we’ve accepted that and there was a pat on the back. The rest of it was a pat on the backside probably.”
The 86-cap veteran produced a mixed bag in his first Test of the year, spilling a simple ball on attack and somehow letting Springboks centre Jessie Kriel carve between him and midfield partner Ma’a Nonu to score in the second half.
Despite training lightly this week, Nonu is unlikely to play because of his shoulder injury.
Smith says he will make it a priority to gel properly with whoever starts at inside centre to ensure there is no repeat.
“For myself, I was a step off the pace in South Africa.
“I’d like to obviously build a relationship with the guy I’m alongside.
“And as a backline, I’m sure we’d like to create a few more opportunities and then take them. That’s something we haven’t done in the Tests so far.”
Sonny Bill Williams is favoured to wear 12 in what would be his 26th Test but just his second on Australian soil.
Smith believes Williams can handle the intensity of playing in Sydney, where he has a high profile and his fair share of critics following roller coaster NRL stints there.
“He’s used to it, I’m sure. He attracts attention wherever he goes,” Smith said.
“If anything, I think he enjoys it and draws a lot of motivation from it.”