"That's the most disappointing thing for me...is that everyone who doubted us, fans, media, yous, you know, yous got your way.
"We couldn't deliver what I thought we could deliver. That's what burns, that's what probably hurts the most, we have, we've let down our country."
Shaun Johnson cut a dispirited figure talking to reporters following New Zealand's shock Rugby League World Cup quarter-final loss against Fiji and his comments rung a bell of pain but also misunderstanding.
Captain Adam Blair had tears in his eyes in the post-match press conference. It's clear how much representing New Zealand means to him. The loss will have cut to his bone.
But what has become clear in the aftermath is that Johnson, Blair and coach David Kidwell have misunderstood what their fans want from them.
They could have the best culture in the world but without the results it means nothing.
Supporters, despite what Johnson, Kidwell and Blair think, want the Kiwis to win. Nothing less.
Maybe the Kiwis are after an apology from the fans. Something like this perhaps:
To whom it may concern,
We know the last few weeks have been rough for you. And we hear your calls for us to be more supportive, we really do, so we thought we'd take a bit of time to pen an apology to you.
We wanted you to lose. There, we said it. We love seeing our national teams fail on the world stage. Remember when the All Blacks lost in the 2007 Rugby World Cup quarter-finals? Damn near threw them a parade out of sheer joy.
We know it's our fault you didn't get past the quarter-finals. There shouldn't have been any expectation from us for you to make the final of the Rugby League World Cup in the first place.
You did tell us you were coming for the crown but we never should have held you to that standard.
Not only did we expect you to at least make the final, we demanded it. Maybe it's a New Zealand thing where we expect nothing but the best from a team capable of doing so.
We forget the culture is the most important thing, this unified front of guys who wanted to represent the Kiwis the right way.
It's just, from an outside perspective, we expect that unification to be shown on the field when the going gets tough.
All we wanted to see was a team that knuckled down and battled for hard yards in the pack. Maybe that was too much to ask of professionals.
The Pacific fans, and Tonga in particular, showed more passion than we did. There's no doubting that. We should have had that level of exuberance to match the passion you guys had.
We know if we had a bit more passion, we could have made you better tactically. You obviously needed supporters yelling at you from the stands to get you to not kick on the third, get any sort of go-forward and show some attacking nous.
But alas, we didn't. It's our fault. Next time we won't hold you to any standard. We'll be content with a dismal quarter-final performance.
And we'll cop it on the chin, just like you guys clearly have.
Our deepest apologies,
Your faithful supporters.
Of course, this letter will never arrive at NZRL headquarters.
New Zealand supporters never want their teams to lose, no real fan does. Losing is acceptable but blaming your supporters for a lacklustre effort rather than looking in the mirror is shameful.
People want to support the Kiwis but when the coach, captain and star player hit out at fans, it almost makes you want to defect to a Pacific team.