South Africa lost their Rugby Championship opener in Brisbane to the Wallabies 24-20 despite leading 20-7 after 50 minutes, conceding a try after the final hooter following sustained pressure by the home side.
“I thought the Springboks were pretty impressive, they all played very well and I was impressed with their midfield, but it was a strange result. But that’s elite-level sport, a lot of games get decided on slim margins,” Smith said after the All Blacks arrived in Johannesburg ahead of most of the South African team.
“But I think South Africa will take a lot of positives out of that match, if they look at the performance rather than the result – which is what you should do – then they’ll be pretty satisfied,” he added.
Smith, one of the All Blacks’ key attacking generals at outside centre, said he believed the Springboks had looked the better side.
“When they kept the ball and attacked, they looked much the better side, but then they stopped playing the way they were playing. Sometimes when you put on a lot of players, it can upset the flow of the game, there were almost too many replacements all at once and they lost experience on the day as well. Whatever they put that second-half fade down to, obviously they’ll figure out why it happened, I’m sure,” Smith said.
The All Blacks had a bonus-point win over Argentina to start their Rugby Championship title defence on an impressive note, although Smith was rested for the game in Christchurch. He and several other first-choice players from the Hurricanes and Highlanders are likely to return for this weekend’s Test against the Springboks at Ellis Park.
“I’ve been around a little while so I don’t mind sitting out games too much, you understand the coach’s reasons. Come game time, there’s no doubt you want to be playing, but all the guys sitting out are very understanding and coaches have to make those calls,” Smith said.