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When Ireland exited the World Cup a week ago, under a cloud following their devastating quarterfinal defeat by New Zealand, they copped a fair bit of flak for failing to front up after the game.
Senior players, it was noted, did not come to the mixed zone. Joe Schmidt, the coach, did not host a press conference the next day. No one was put up for the media at all. When the squad arrived in Dublin three days later, Peter O’Mahony said he had “no comment” to make about the game as he had not yet seen it back, although he and Schmidt did take other questions.
You could not accuse New Zealand of failing to front up, despite what was, for them, a similarly devastating defeat; outplayed, outthought and outfought by a rampant England in Yokohama on Saturday.
Steve Hansen, New Zealand’s head coach, and Ian Foster, his assistant, put themselves front and centre, before Kieran Read, Beauden Barrett and Sam Whitelock, arguably the three most senior players in the All Blacks squad, took questions from the world’s media.
* Boks ‘unlikely to play expansively’
* All Blacks slip to third in world rankings
* Smith: We let New Zealand down
* Emotional Read finds perspective
* Call that left Hansen close to tears
* Reality check for young All Blacks
* Why this is NZ’s worst RWC loss
* Wallabies must bring back Eddie
* Who should be next ABs coach?
* McGeechan: ABs were outplayed
* How Mitchell outfoxed All Blacks
More than that, though, it was the way in which they spoke which was so impressive; honest, gracious, heartfelt. Read and Hansen, both of whom are going to be involved with the All Blacks for the final time in Friday’s third-place play-off against Wales, were very emotional.
Hansen choked up, stopping to take a sip of water, as he recalled a phone call to his wife post
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