Senior All Blacks not dwelling on World Cup ‘disappointment’

By 1news.co.nz

Senior members of the All Blacks have conceded there’s plenty of emotion in the sheds following this morning’s loss to France to open their Rugby World Cup but they’re ensuring morale stays high moving forward in their campaign.

The All Blacks lost their first-ever pool match at a Rugby World Cup with this morning’s underwhelming 27-13 loss to hosts France at Stade de France.

Sam Whitelock, playing his 147th Test for the All Blacks in the defeat, said while there was still plenty of review to come, an issue stood out immediately in the brief hindsight they’d had since the final whistle.

“We knew it was going to be tough and we knew that if we gave them any opportunities, they were going to try and make the most of them and that’s exactly what happened,” Whitelock said.

“It just shows that discipline at this level has to be right up there because if you give away too many penalties and you’re in the wrong area of the field, they can punish you and that’s exactly what happened tonight.”

Whitelock fronted media along with fellow Test centurions Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett – three of top 10 most-capped All Blacks of all-time – following the loss and showed their experience with their answers and mindsets following the result.

The trio have all experienced the highs and lows of a World Cup, having won in 2015 before feeling the sting of defeat four years ago in Japan at the hands of England in the semi-finals.

While today’s loss hurt in a different manner, Whitelock said they couldn’t hide from it.

“You never want to lose in any Test match but to lose in a round robin in a World Cup, it definitely hurts,” he said.

“You always want to start a tournament and get out on the right side of it with a good win but we didn’t do that tonight so it’s just about giving ourselves time to dwell on it but then we’ve got to get back on the horse pretty quickly because this tournament doesn’t stop.

“It’s just about taking the right amount of time to deal with it because if you brush over it too quick you won’t get the things that we need to do better but you can’t dwell on it.”

The trio all reiterated the same message in their individual interviews with Smith adding there were positives to take from the match as well, mostly from a tight first half.

“We had plenty of opportunities – it was such a good first half,” the halfback said.

“We took our opportunities early which was really good and struck well off lineouts and put them under pressure and we scored off one. We got into their 22 two or three times but just couldn’t quite execute the last bits and that’s the positive – if we’d nailed those two or three moments, what could the score have been?

“We’ve just got to build on this and keep working hard.”

Smith said he was proud of the team’s efforts tonight but knows it’s only the starting point for them.

“The beauty of this tournament is that we’ve got three more games to keep getting better and put ourselves in a position to try and make a playoff.

“There was heaps of energy and tension and nerves around the game and I think we’ll be better for it – to handle an environment like that tonight, to feel it, it can only be good for the group.”

Barrett added some of those feelings were still lingering after the final whistle but that’s all part of the experience too.

“In the changing rooms there’s a lot of emotions, disappointment and the boys are a it gutted but deep down we know [a winning performance] is there and we’re not going to lose hope and we’ll stay positive.

The fullback added defending champions South Africa have shown the first match doesn’t decide a tournament after they lost to the All Blacks in 2019 pool play before going on to win the World Cup.

“World Cups aren’t won in September.”

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