COMMENT: Gregor Paul in Tokyo
There's been a suggestion that the All Blacks bronze medal match against Wales can bring redemption. But it can't.
Not on any meaningful scale at least. Not the real cathartic sort that flushes the demons and cleanses the soul. That's not going to happen even if the All Blacks run amok and crush Wales into a tiny, little red pulp.
The emotional maths doesn't stack. A victory against Wales in the bronze final doesn't negate a loss to England in the semifinal.
The All Blacks' world will not be fully restored to perfect order on Saturday morning even should they wake up with bits of Wales still stuck in their boots from trampling all over them.
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It's going to take at least four years for everything to be right again because true redemption can only come when the Webb Ellis trophy is back in the All Blacks' possession.
That's what it is going to take to fully heal the wounds England inflicted. The pain of a World Cup semifinal defeat can only be healed by returning to the tournament in 2023 and winning it.
That's how it works at this level – it's an eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth sort of business to balance the emotional scales.
The All Blacks were almost mentally broken by losing to France in 2007 and only fixed when they beat them four years later in the final.
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They began healing along the way, feeling better when they won the Tri-Nations in 2008 and a Grand Slam.
Feeling better still when they did it again in 2010 but they didn't feel whole until Andy Ellis booted the ball into the Eden Park crowd to clinch an 8-7 victory in the World Cup final.
So the healing process this time begins against Wales but it can't end there. It will continue for the next four years and if the All Blacks are successful, if they win as often and as much as they have in the last decade, then test-by-test, month-by-month, the pain will ease a little more.
But it won't be eradicated until they succeed where they failed. It might recede to this tight little nut that leaves only the faintest irritation by the time they head to France in four years, but it will be there nonetheless.
What Friday night's game can do is ensure that a bad situation does not become worse.
It sucks having to play this game, but life will suck a whole lot more for the All Blacks if they lose to Wales for the first time since 1953.
Negative motivation isn't really the All Blacks' thing, but the flip side is that they need a victory to ensure a number of long-serving All Blacks end their illustrious careers with a win.
Tokyo Stadium is not where Steve Hansen wanted his last game to be, but he certainly wants his last act as coach to be hugging victorious players.
It's the same for Kieran Read. He'll forever have this little hole in his heart as a result of what happened last weekend and the last thing he needs now is to captain a team that loses to Wales for the first time in 67 years.
That would badly taint a career that should, in time, earn wider respect and admiration than it currently has.
It's the same for Ben Smith, Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty: this is it for them, the last act in black and the quirk of the human mind is such that we tend to remember the final offering in the sort of detail that can almost render the rest of a career moot.
All those leaving owe it to themselves to walk out of the international game the way they want to walk out. As winners.
And what this game against Wales can also do is provide a timely reminder that the All Blacks are not barking up the wrong tree with their all-out attack game.
It didn't work against England. It wasn't sharp enough or varied enough and whether this was a failure of strategy, planning and selection by the coaches or a failure to implement the gameplan and execute it by the players shouldn't be used as a basis to twist the story into the All Blacks being a bad team.
They are a good team that played poorly last weekend. It wasn't their night against an England team which produced one of the great performances of the professional era, but that's not a reason to believe the All Blacks can't climb back to the summit with the sort of rugby they delivered against South Africa and Ireland.
It's not a reason to believe that everything has to be thrown away on the back of one bad night and of all the things the All Blacks can achieve against Wales, restoring an element of faith and confidence that they are a supremely gifted team with the ability to play brilliant rugby is the most important.