Legendary former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw admitted it was difficult to see the New Zealand players so disappointed following their narrow loss in the Rugby World Cup final.
The side managed to defy the odds and made it all the way to the final where they faced their old enemy, the Springboks.
It was a tightly contested match with a red card to skipper Sam Cane in the first half not helping. Still, the All Blacks managed to get close but ultimately lost 12-11 on the night.
So close but so far
It was some effort after an underwhelming World Cup cycle with outgoing head coach Ian Foster being put under huge pressure during his tenure, despite winning all the Rugby Championships he could have.
McCaw admits he was not sure whether coming close was better or worse but was proud of the team.
“It was hard to take. If you’re not even in with a chance you know you couldn’t have won but the fact that they got close, I don’t know if it makes it better or worse,” McCaw said, as reported by Nine’s Wide World of Sports.
“As a fan sitting there watching, I felt for the guys.
“It’s one of those things that will always sit with them, that they got so close but didn’t quite nail it.
“But that’s the nature of World Cups, they’re not easy to win and you’ve got to get everything spot on when it counts.
“It was hard to see them disappointed at the end, but that’s what happens in sport.”
While the All Blacks bucked expectations it was the opposite for the Wallabies, who under Eddie Jones failed to get out of the pool stage for the first time in history.
The situation continued to worsen weeks after the global showpiece finished as Hamish McLennan was forced out of his role as chairman of Rugby Australia before the governing body had some financial hiccups straight after.
New Zealand need a good Wallabies side
McCaw believes that New Zealand and Australia benefit from each other and underlined how important it is for the Wallabies to find their feet again.
“Obviously, disappointing from a Wallaby point of view that they didn’t get out of the group stage,” McCaw said.
“I was part of a team in 2007 that although we made the quarters, we came home well below expectations. When you’ve got people that expect better there is a lot of questions asked but you’ve got to make sure the passion and the people who really care get aligned on the things you need to do to turn it around.
“I know a lot of the players I played against who are extremely passionate and want to see Wallaby rugby and Australian rugby, in general, be successful.
“From a New Zealand point of view, we need the Wallabies to be successful to have a Super [Rugby] competition. They may not have the depth that they like but they certainly have got talented players.”