New Zealand captain Kieran Read has been reflecting on his side’s disappointing World Cup semi-final defeat to England on Saturday as the All Blacks look to bounce back in next week’s third place play-off against Wales.
The All Blacks were outclassed by an incredibly strong English side as their dreams of a third World Cup triumph in a row were dashed in Yokohama.
Read was still understandably hurting after his penultimate game for the All Blacks ended in defeat, and facing the media on Sunday he explained that he is feeling “pretty empty” following the loss.
“It’s pretty empty. Yep, it’s not what we came here for. That’s the reality of it. But it’s not going to define us as a group. It’s not going to define who we are.
“It’s about doing what we can this week to go out and perform on Friday. There’s no two ways around it. You’re really gutted. But I’m sure there’s a lot of people in that boat with us and we feel for them as well.”
England’s win, as All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen explained, came as no surprise to New Zealand given how strong Eddie Jones’ side have been of late.
There is a pressure however and a sense of expectation that comes with donning the famous black strip, and winning the World Cup is included in that.
“End of the World! read the headlines in New Zealand, but Read outlined that dealing with the pressure of the nation is part of the job description that comes with being an All Black.
“As an All Black, I appreciate the support we get from the country. I feel if we didn’t have it, it would feel a bit different.
“Next year I’m going to be one of those people – a fan – wanting the All Blacks to win. It’s in our nature as New Zealanders.
“We’ve learned a lot potentially over the last dozen years or so about loss, perspective and what it means to be a fan. We as a nation are just passionate about little things we can do, because we are a little nation who punch above our weight.
“We understand that’s part of our job as All Blacks to achieve things. I’d hate to lose that expectation and all that comes with being an All Black.”
New Zealand and Read must now face the dreaded third-place playoff against Wales on Friday, in what will be the captain’s final game for his country.
Although the pain of defeat is still raw, Read explained the importance of family in helping him get over the loss.
“I haven’t seen my kids yet. Got some cards from them last night which were waiting in the hotel room.
“But that’s the thing. It’s all relative. My kids aren’t going to love me less.
“So it’s a tough pill to swallow because of the effort you put in, and the guys beside me have put in. It’s connections you have with your mates that makes it tough.
“But your family and the ones close to you go through that ride as well. They hurt and struggle.
“It’s a chance again. We’ve got one more crack at it on Friday. We’ll make the most of that.”