I'm not sure what we take away from that. This has shown that we need to have props that able to scrummage well, first and foremost... yet we knew that from 2012 and 2013. It also showed that it might be an idea to pick our best team, regardless of their age... yet we knew that from 2012. I don't think that these factors are what lost us this tournament, but they certainly don't help.
During the first few years of the JRWC, teams were poorly coached and our backs had all the time in the world, so we could just run rings around them. However, there isn't that space anymore, and the defenses are rushing up, cutting down our options. We've put much more of a focus on conditioning recently, with Robertson trying to put an extra few kgs on all his forwards. And I think this is largely a good move, and has been positive. We can now chuck the ball to a forward, who drives the ball forward, and (sometimes) makes ground.
However, we don't really seem to be able to do much beyond this, besides giving the backs the ball and just hoping for the best, in the face of a strong defense. It doesn't seem that we are able to build up pressure on attack, phase after phase, unless someone makes a break from broken play. The fact that we are under pressure at every scrum, definitely isn't helping in keeping the pressure on the opposing team.
If we're under pressure, I'd like to see us try kicking in behind the other team more often (especially when things are that wet). I'm not saying we don't want to be running with the ball, but when we're under pressure in the rain, it might just be an idea to settle things down a bit. We have players who can kick well (Perofeta, Barrett), and we can put pressure back on the other team with a good chase (just like when Nock kicked and Barrett followed it up and put a big hit on). We have a bit of pace too, and if players like Barrett, Tuitama and Emerson (who should've been picked - did they even give Leger a shot?) can chase hard, we might even be able to get the ball back (particularly if they mix the kicking up a bit, with a few grubbers/chips in behind the attack if they're rushing forward).
Another tactic that the All Blacks often use is they stand up in the tackle and get the arms free for an offload. If the supporting player gets the ball past the line of defense, then it is generally pretty hard to stop. I don't know if this team had anyone available who could stand up effectively in the tackle, and offload, but it would probably pay to get them at least trying. They are going to want to make the ABs in a few years, and they'll likely be expected to be able to do this. I guess this is where a stronger midfield might have been useful.
As mentioned before, the selections are a bit baffling at times. The coaches would've known we were playing in England, so the decisions to pick props more based on their running ability is a bit bizarre. We didn't even get to see some of our backs with a bit of space, let alone the forwards. It is possible that they thought these guys are more likely to make the All Blacks in the future, though, so picked them for their own development (though many of the props we've picked in the past who have struggled to hold up a scrum haven't even made it to ITM Cup level, yet). There are also the non-selections of the likes of Emerson, Umaga-Jensen and I'd like to throw in Apikotoa too, who has played prop for Wellington, and would likely have been a heck of a lot better than Fidow.
For next year, I'd like to see the best team selected, regardless of age. I'd like to see props picked primarily for their scrummaging ability (let's hope Fidow can improve here, because if he does he will be a handful for the opposition), and I'd like to see our team play to the conditions, and handle pressure a lot better, as well as putting pressure back on to the opposing side.
The following players have been involved at some point this year, and are available again next year.
1.Pouri Rakete-Stones (not sure if he plays loosehead)
10.Stephen Perofeta/Orbyn Leger/Josh McKay
When you add the likes of Sevu Reece (wing - played well for Waikato in their first Ranfurly Shield match), Rieko Ioane (unless he is with the All Blacks), Thomas Umaga-Jensen (midfield), Sione Asi (a big, solid prop) and Samisoni Taukei'aho (hooker - came off the bench for Waikato in their RS game) then I think there is good reason to feel a lot more positive about next year's squad.