All Blacks coach Graham Henry admitted that the Springboks outplayed his team in Port Elizabeth but said he had no regrets about leaving nine of New Zealand's leading players at home to rest ahead of the World Cup.
In their final match before the World Cup, the defending champions' forwards, in particular, turned in a powerful performance against what was effectively a New Zealand second-string team but Henry said that still believes taking an under-strength team to face the desperate Boks was the right call.
With a number of players returning from injury and others given a late opportunity to play themselves into the World Cup squad the All Blacks lacked the fluency to compete with a full strength Springbok outfit who were hungry for a win to boost their flagging confidence levels.
Henry explained that the decision to leave some of his star performers at home was necessary as he seeks to leave no stone unturned in the bid to secure World Cup glory on home soil next month.
"We made some big decisions some time ago and I'm happy with that. It gave some players the opportunity to play today. We had a look at the big picture and the future," he said.
The All Blacks boss praised the intensity with which the Springboks approached the clash and said that their determined defence had put his side under pressure.
"South Africa played with a lot of physicality and passion. They scrambled in defence very well. We created probably six opportunities to score and only converted one of them. That was frustrating," he commented.
Henry said a lack of maturity and the patience to build attacking moves had hurt the All Blacks' chances, but fielding some fringe players had been a useful exercise ahead of the announcement of the World Cup squad on Tuesday.
The All Blacks mentor said the defeat would not shake New Zealand's belief in their attacking style of play.
"We created a lot of opportunities to do the business. The game that we are playing has got distinct possibilities," he maintained.
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