But, despite the agony of their semifinal defeat loss to England the night before, the All Blacks are intent of putting in a performance they can be proud of when they face Wales at Tokyo Stadium on Friday night. For several, including skipper Kieran Read and coach Steve Hansen, it will be the last time they are closely involved with the All Blacks.
“We’re playing, obviously, so we will treat it like any test match,” Read said. “It will be a bit different for us but we’ll prepare as well as we can and perform as best we can. We’re All Blacks so it’s a chance for us to pull on the jersey again.
“For some of us it may be our last chance. There are a few things there what we’ll work through this week and come Friday we’ll be ready to go.”
What was plainly obvious still was how much Read was still hurting from that 19-7 defeat at the hands of England.
Continue reading below…
He was close to tears when describing how he returned to his hotel room to see cards sent by his children on the occasion of his 34th birthday, and Hansen was close to breaking too when asked who he rang from the side of the Yokohama Stadium pitch straight after the loss. It was his wife Natasha.
So getting up for this next challenge will be one of the toughest of their careers and several players not involved in the England loss will get a run; men such as Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty, along with Sonny Bill Williams, on the bench for the last two games here.
Hansen said it wasn’t for him to comment on whether the playoff for what is effectively second and third losers should be played. Like it or not, it’s a test, and he and his men still have a remarkable record to protect.
New Zealand rugby's most famous critic has called for the @AllBlacks to stop performing the haka before test matches, calling it "bogus" and a "means of rank bullying on and off the field". #RWC2019 #NZLvWAL https://t.co/UYc61SluLQ
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 1, 2019
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.