Steve Hansen lauded the leadership of Kieran Read after New Zealand sent their outgoing coach and captain on their way with a 40-17 demolition of Wales in the Rugby World Cup bronze match.
The All Blacks showed little mercy as they responded to their semi-final defeat to England in style on Friday, dispatching Warren Gatland’s Six Nations champions with ease to claim third place.
Ben Smith – also playing in his final Test – starred with two tries as the deposed world champions cruised in Tokyo.
Read, as he has throughout his glorious spell as captaincy, led the charge and Hansen, who has won 93 of his 107 Tests as All Blacks coach, singled out the 34-year-old as being the key factor in New Zealand’s impressive response.
“Reado led really, really well this week. He’s a great leader but I think this week, he needs to take a bow because he was hurting probably more than most,” Hansen told a news conference.
“We saw that earlier in the week, but he put his own personal feelings to the side and knew this team had to get up.
“You sit there and see the performance they put in and you can be nothing but proud of it and I’m sure there are lots of New Zealanders and All Blacks fans all over the world that will be proud of what they did today.”
Thank you, Steve.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) November 1, 2019
Read insisted he was always going to savour his final appearance in the famous black jersey, even though New Zealand’s failure to win an unprecedented third successive World Cup means the end to his international career is a bittersweet one.
“It’s been a great day. I’ve tried to really make sure I stay in the moment and enjoy this day,” said Read, who will continue his career in Japan with Toyota Verblitz.
“My emotions at the start of the week, I was able to get them all out of there, so today was about the process, trying to play well and soak it up and enjoy the occasion.
“I just love playing with this team and for my family to come out there at the end and share this special moment, it was great and I’ll hold these memories for a long time.
“I look back at this World Cup and it’ll take me a little bit of time to get over, but in the end I’ll come back with some fond memories and remember today.”
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