Kieran Read's last pre-match speech as All Blacks captain hit the mark.

In his 127th and final test, Read began with the symbolic honour of leading the haka and finished his All Blacks career by sharing the last, fleeting moments with his three daughters on Tokyo Stadium.

The All Blacks 40-17 rout of Wales in the bronze medal match is not the script Read wanted to end on but after the crushing semifinal defeat to England his presence was clearly a major inspiration for the team to lift themselves off the floor.

Read started the week in a shattered state but he then led the way in attempting to channel that emotion into something positive.

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After enduring the most difficult week of his leadership tenure, Read set the tone in the sheds with his final sermon.

All Blacks and Crusaders midfielder Ryan Crotty has savoured many years with Read and as his skipper spoke one last time, in his 52nd test as captain, to demand the team restored pride, he knew then the response would come.

"I remember he spoke before we went out and he spoke with real emotion," Crotty said. "You could see what it meant to him tonight, what the performance would say about us and backing up after last week.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read after their victory over Wales in the Rugby World Cup Bronze Final match played at Tokyo Stadium, Japan. Rugby World Cup. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
All Blacks captain Kieran Read after their victory over Wales in the Rugby World Cup Bronze Final match played at Tokyo Stadium, Japan. Rugby World Cup. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

"Sam [Cane] spoke really well before we went out. He always speaks with that relentless mindset. We felt ready to go out there and enjoy ourselves and take it to them.

"We're very lucky we had another game after last week to bottle the hurt and put that into a performance to be proud of."

Jordie Barrett, one of the youngest members of the team, was also struck by Read's pre-match message.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read leading the haka from the middle of their formation before the Rugby World Cup Bronze Final match played at Tokyo Stadium, Japan. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
All Blacks captain Kieran Read leading the haka from the middle of their formation before the Rugby World Cup Bronze Final match played at Tokyo Stadium, Japan. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

"He was trying not to bring emotion into it but when you hear guys who have played over 100 tests speak like that it gets you up," Barrett said.

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"It was about the pride in the jersey and what the All Blacks stand for and trying to put out a performance that we're proud of."

As he, too, signs off from the All Blacks, Crotty led the tributes to the departing Read, who finished his last outing with a game high 21 tackles.

"He's a special man and he deserves to be lifting the trophy tomorrow night but that's not the way it goes. He's been massive for this team. He leads from the front every week and during the week as well. I've played a lot of games with me ol' mate. It will be nice to connect over the next couple of days."


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