Richie McCaw has lambasted the 2007 Rugby World Cup organisers who "appointed the most inexperienced referee on the roster" for the All Blacks' infamous quarter-final against France.
Englishman Wayne Barnes left the nation seething after a string of poor decisions which tipped the competition favourites off balance and saw them knocked out.
In an extract from his new book, The Open Side, provided exclusively to the Herald, captain McCaw talks about the team's campaign and their 20-18 loss.
Speaking for the first time about the ref, the usually reserved flanker said: "I don't blame Barnes, but I do blame the people who appointed the most inexperienced referee on the roster to a RWC quarter-final between the hosts and the favourites. I thought both teams deserved a referee with experience.
"My beef isn't with Barnes so much as with his inexperience. This was Barnes' biggest game by far. On the big stage, an inexperienced referee is likely to become so afraid of making a mistake that he stops making any decisions at all.
"By the end of it, I thought Barnes was frozen with fear and wouldn't make any big calls."
Among his decisions, Barnes missed a host of apparent ruck indiscretions by the French and a forward pass that led directly to a French try.
France lost to England in the semis. South Africa won the tournament.
McCaw's comments follow claims in former All Black coach Sir Graham Henry's book that the team were victims of match-fixing.
McCaw, 31, also talks about what went through his head four years later when the whistle blew to end the 2011 RWC final - meaning the All Blacks had won for the first time since 1987.
After beating France 8-7, the next few moments went by in a blur, he said.
"The moment I've been waiting four years for. I thought I'd feel more. It's like I'm seeing it all through someone else's eyes. The welling emotion of the crowd rolling over me, too mentally and physically shot to really respond."