Such is rugby's revered place within New Zealand society, the All Blacks often command god-like status. This highly emotive week, following the very public devastation in Yokohama, has instead stripped back the hype to reveal a real and raw humanising of this team.
The All Blacks regularly wear masks at press appearances. They are advised prior about what questions may be asked, and instructed about what their scripted responses should be.
Most players are careful about what they say for fear of creating an unwanted headline or stepping outside the image the team wants to project.
This, though, is anything but a normal week.
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This week, after their semifinal defeat to England, the masks have been removed. Honesty and genuine emotion have replaced couched responses.
Dane Coles was the latest All Black to shed tears today after a question about the presence of his family in Japan. Steve Hansen needed to pause and take a long sip of water to prevent his emotions bubbling over one day after the defeat to England. Kieran Read was in a visibly similar, shattered state for 48 hours after the match.
These are strong, stoic men unable to conceal the reality of the situation. The All Blacks don't get any more real than this.
"It's been really good having my family here," Coles said as he wiped a tear away and apologised unnecessarily. "The biggest thing for me is the life experience. I never went overseas until I was about 15 and here my kids got to go to Disneyland and my parents got to come.
"Obviously the result was crap but it's been good to share that experience with my mum and dad. It's been awesome to have them here. They're just normal people from Kapiti who got to go to Japan and watch their son in a World Cup."
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No one wants to show this vulnerability in such a public way so we can only imagine the responses that have come behind closed doors.
The other point to acknowledge is just how long all involved will hold the hurt.
Friday's third and fourth playoff with Wales is a chance to release frustrations, sure. But no matter the result, many will carry the pain of failure for the next four years, until they get another chance.
Those preparing for their final tests - Read, Ben Smith, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Matt Todd, Hansen and forwards coach Mike Cron - won't get the same chance again.
Defeat to England is likely to sit in the pit of their guts in some way forever.
"It's always going to be there," Coles said. "Adversity, it's important that we learn from it. Hopefully there's a lot of young guys that take a helluva lot from it and if they get back in that chance they can remember what it felt like for further World Cup games or matches for the All Blacks.
"I've had a couple of losses in Super finals and they still come up now and then. This is going to be one of the ones that hangs around but you've got to use it in the right way. Once you're on that pitch it's about playing rugby and doing what you love."
Read suggested he would take an interest in the result but may not even watch the final between England and South Africa. It's all the All Blacks can do to move from one day to the next at present.
"I'm not going to lie it's been tough, very tough," Coles said.
"Seeing the young guys getting a chance has made me get up. Guys that are leaving – Reado, Bender, Crots, Sonny Bill. Little things like that have perked me up. I'll deal with my personal issues when I get back home after the loss.
"Any little thing just to put a smile on the boys' faces and take our minds off what happened is all we can do."
Coles is one who will at least, fitness permitting, get another crack in the black jersey next year. After battling back from concussion issues which threatened to end his career, the long-serving Hurricanes hooker made it clear this experience will fuel his hunger to return.
"I still pinch myself because there were a couple of times where I didn't think this was likely. I'd love to be in the All Blacks next year. I love playing for this team. We'll get this game out of the way but I still have a desire to pull on that black jersey and represent my country. There will be a strong desire to work hard next year and get back to this team because I love it and I care about it."