Departing All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has spoken of his pride at the way his side has dealt with the disappointment of last week as they bounced back to win their World Cup bronze playoff victory 40-17 over Wales at Tokyo Stadium tonight.
Hansen led the tributes and heard a few about himself too as he prepares to leave a side he has been in charge of for eight years.
The All Blacks played with energy and commitment and overwhelmed the Wales side, who did well to stay in the match for as long as they did.
"There was a lot of external talk about not wanting to play this game," Hansen said. "We came off an extremely disappointing loss to England, a team who played better than us on the day. We showed character and hopefully made a lot of New Zealanders proud.
"I'd like to commend Wales as well. They came to play, it was a good game of footy and at the end of the day the game is bigger than us … if you come with intent to play, and lots of tries were scored by both teams, you attract more people to the game.
"Tomorrow we'll have a new World Cup champion and whoever it is we'll commend them for their efforts because it's a very hard tournament to win."
Hansen also fired a mild shot at the Six Nations bloc and urged them to make decisions for the good of the game and not just themselves. He paid a lot of credit to Wales and their Kiwi coach Warren Gatland, but questioned too how his rival's time with the Chiefs will go given as it coincides with a Lions tour in 2021.
"We need to become a global game and make decisions that are right for the game and not just for a region," Hansen said.
"We need to put our personal desires aside and do what's right for the game. We struggle with that at the moment."
Asked about the challenge ahead of the All Blacks, he said: "Everyone's getting better. For a long time we can take pride in what we've done because we've forced teams to get better to beat us. England have done that and South Africa have done that on a couple of occasions and now they're in the final.
"I know the All Blacks will continue to strive to be better. I've been lucky with the people and great leaders, with Richie and Reado coming in to continue that.
"You don't do what we've done with just one person. Our challenge is now to regroup and set the goals for the next four years. I do know that the young men coming back have a personal pain. They've experienced something that you can't tell them about … it's personal and that will make them more dangerous.
"I look forward to seeing them grow and the same applies to the game itself. The more competitive it is the better for the game."
Skipper Kieran Read said after his final test: "It's been a great day. I've made sure to stay in the moment and enjoy it. My emotions at the start of the week - I managed to get them all out there. I just love playing with this team.
"To be able to share the moments with my family was great. I'll hold these memories for a long time. It will take time to get over but I'll come back with some fond memories and remember today as well."
Assistant coach Ian Foster added of Hansen's time in charge: "It's been a really special period. When you look at the environment and leadership – he's been incredibly demanding on this group. The expectations have always been high but it's always coupled with compassion and empathy for the individual. When you get that right the formula is pretty special."
Hansen, emotional last week, endured another wobbly moment when asked in front of the TV camera on the pitch straight afterwards what it all meant to him, but held it together, just as his team did during the preceding 80 minutes.
"It's been a privilege," Hansen managed, before departing stage left.
"Slice of Heaven" rang out of the speakers as the All Blacks bowed to the crowd. Not quite, but it was probably as good as could be expected.