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Ryan Crotty took his cue from Kieran Read, as he has so often in his long career in New Zealand rugby. He figured you might as well finish as you started out.
Crotty and Read, great friends and team-mates for both franchise and country, were part of a group playing their final tests for the All Blacks in Friday’s bronze medal Rugby World Cup playoff against Wales.
They at least went out on a positive note as, to a man, they played their parts splendidly in a 40-17 victory at Tokyo Stadium.
Crotty, who heads to Japan now he has tucked away a 48th test for the All Blacks, was sharp in a dominant midfield alongside veteran Sonny Bill Williams. He finished a try early in the second spell off a trademark Williams pop pass and generally got through his work with a minimum of fuss and maximum output.
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The midfielder said afterwards an inspiring locker-room speech from Read had set the tone for this dreaded “final” of the beaten semifinalists.
“He spoke before we went out and he spoke with emotion,” said Crotty. “You could see what it meant to him tonight – what the performance would say about us, backing up after last week (when they were beaten 19-7 by England).
“And Sam [Cane] spoke really well before we went out. He always speaks with that relentless kind of mindset.
“We felt ready. We felt like ‘let’s just get out, enjoy ourselves and take it to them’. We’re very lucky we had another game
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