Cup countdown: All Blacks' depth as strong as ever, Craig Dowd says

Experts around the world will have their reasons for why the All Blacks are playing so well at the moment but for me the most important factor is the depth in the side.

The competition for places inside that All Blacks camp right now is probably driving everything. The more Steve Hansen keeps everyone on edge and the line continues that there are no guarantees in selection, the players will be asking themselves: 'What is the starting XV?'

They have to keep performing at the highest level if they are to be selected. And no-one can take it easy; look at the strides Karl Tuinukuafe has made in Joe Moody's absence.

At the moment you could line up five experts and ask them to pick their starting XV and there could be two or three players that they'd all disagree over.

Now they face South Africa, who are on the road, and are vulnerable. But being South Africa no New Zealand side will ever write them off. On Saturday in Wellington it has got to be all about the All Blacks. You can say the Springboks will be a wounded beast, but wounded beasts can go one of two ways - they can fight back or they can throw the white flag up.

The All Blacks really just need to focus on their game and what they can do. Again selection will be different. Beauden Barrett will be back in there and we'll get closer to what is the true All Blacks starting side.

As much as we all know Barrett was rested and given the water boy duties, no-one likes that and I think he'll be wanting to get out there and prove something as will a lot of players.

But when you think about Barrett sitting on the bench watching Richie Mo'unga out there and Mo'unga having Damian McKenzie on the bench. That's not a bad position to be in and there's more players coming through.

There's been some talk that it is unfortunate for Scott Barrett that he is playing in the same era as Retallick and Whitelock. Barrett has come onto the scene and is really pushing for inclusion, but the way the game has moved compared to 2007 when "rotation" was a dirty word I think it has become more accepted that this is how the All Blacks have to be.

The attrition rate is high, the next level of players has to be developed. There has to be back-ups and players have to be given opportunities because otherwise the selectors won't know their capacity for handling rugby at that level.

Probably the most unlucky guy from the start of the championship was Anton Lienert-Brown and he went out and showed on Saturday night that he couldn't afford to be forgotten. He's stepped up in Ryan Crotty's absence and again when Ngani Laumape was injured. Lienert-Brown was outstanding against Argentina.

So how do teams beat the All Blacks? For most facets of the game the Argentinians turned up to play and it was good to see. The All Blacks just showed their class. New Zealand are dangerous when you make a mistake, they are electric from turnover ball. Even though most of the statistics were against the All Blacks it was what they did with the ball when they had it that showed how dangerous they are, right across the field.

The one area that was disappointing from Argentina was the scrum, and take nothing away from the All Blacks pack that went out there. I thought Owen Franks had one of the best games I have seen him play in a long time. He was outstanding.

Tuinukuafe was brilliant. Sport gives people vehicles to transform their lives and his is a great story. He looks every bit as good as they come right at the top level. He carried the ball, he made his tackles, he got around the field and he has put real pressure on Moody. You give a guy a break and there're no guarantees. You've only got that jersey for a short time. No-one owns it.

I thought that Test match really did start up front. The front row - with Codie Taylor again brilliant in the loose and around the field. The All Blacks really dominated the set-piece and it allowed the All Blacks to play their game.

The All Blacks are so clinical that having possession doesn't mean anything unless you can do something with that ball. The All Blacks did miss a few tackles but opposing teams have got to have more flair about what they do. The All Blacks' x-factor comes from off-loads, and the running lines they hit. It's not pass the ball and crash it up and hopefully you're going to beat a man.

The All Blacks play at such pace and their skill level is why they are so good. And the defensive system and the way they trust each other is crucial. The skills they show are not something that is coached. When I say it is not coached, it is developed at a young age. For the All Blacks, and New Zealand rugby, it is done in the backyard or on the beach, or the touch rugby field or in the schoolyard. That's when they pick up their skills.

When they come through and develop as men they are bringing the skills they picked up as a youngster playing with their mates. It's that outdoor lifestyle that Kiwis have. We love to get involved and throw the ball around, whatever type of ball that may be.

The one-dimensional game that some teams play and which relies on physicality is not going to consistently cut it when you look at the pack the All Blacks are putting out there. New Zealand can match any team physically with their forward pack and every one of those players has the skill level of a back as well.

If you're going to be one-dimensional against the All Blacks you need a seriously wet day and a muddy pitch and these days there is no such thing as a muddy pitch. The days when you could rely on the weather to help you are gone.

Twelve months out from the Rugby World Cup, and the All Blacks are in the same position as always - they are the best team in the world between tournaments.

It is worth remembering that the Rugby World Cup is a completely different stage on which to play. Players rise to the occasion of being at the World Cup. There'll be international players who turn up in Japan and become household names by the end of it because they've just hit form at the right time.

The World Cup is a cut-throat, sink-or-swim environment but for the All Blacks it is all about composure. For them it is a case of keeping the ship moving.

The only thing they can control is their fitness levels and their form going into it. The one thing the All Blacks do have is depth. If you look at most other teams in the world they can't compete with the level of depth we have of players sitting in behind our front line players.