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Dublin: 11°C Monday 19 April 2021

McCaw, Henry proud of All Blacks' efforts

New Zealand’s captain and manager were very happy men after seeing their side triumph at Eden Park.

Image: David Davies/PA Wire/Press Association Images

ALL BLACKS CAPTAIN Richie McCaw almost seemed lost for words when he was asked to describe how he felt at achieving his ultimate dream on Sunday.

Twenty-four years after claiming the Webb Ellis trophy for the first time, New Zealand have eventually regained the title after over two decades of heartache.

It wasn’t an easy task, however – France raised their game immeasurably from some of the dismal performances that have seen the squad heavily criticised over the past couple of weeks and there was only a single point between the teams at the final whistle.

“The guys dug as deep as they’ve ever dug before, I’m just so proud of everyone,” he said in front of the home crowd afterwards.

“We couldn’t have been under more pressure but we stuck to our guns and got there in the end.”

“I think at some stage some team was going to do it and this group of 30 had the opportunity. You just have to keep getting up and believing in the mate beside you and trust in him and make sure you do your job.

“Everyone around New Zealand has given this team so much over the past six weeks and now we’ve repaid them.”

Coach Graham Henry has been eight years in the job to date and will now move on to other things – he’s expected to take up a director of rugby role with the NZRU – but he leaves with his ultimate target accomplished.

“It has been bloody outstanding,” he said afterwards. “Richie and the boys just hanging in there right through the 80 minutes to win this thing. I’m just delighted for the boys. We’ve been the top team in the world for a long time, so it’s been a long time coming.

“There was a wee bit of turmoil up there (in the coaches’ box) but you just have to reflect over the seven weeks and what these people have done right throughout the country.”

Incredibly, New Zealand lost their third fly-half of the campaign to injury during the match and it was fourth-choice Stephen Donald that nailed what would turn out to be the decisive points.

Henry concluded: “Donald came on and played bloody well. He kicked what turned out to be the winning goal and gave us field position when we needed it. I was nervous the whole game, not just about Stephen – I knew he could handle it.”

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