All Blacks captain Sam Cane says the team was digesting a ‘horrible feeling’ as they arrived in Germany for the pre-World Cup camp.
Despite sweeping aside their Rugby Championship rivals on the way to four Test wins to start the year, the side were deflated by a Springboks team in Twickenham by the tune of 35-7.
That heavy loss left a sour taste as they headed to Adidas HQ to train at the home of their sponsors in Germany, but Cane is hopeful they’ll look back soon and be “glad” it happened when it did.
“It was a horrible feeling on Friday night and the next day,” Cane told 1News from All Blacks camp.
“With a couple of days to settle I think we’ll look back and hopefully take the lessons we have from the game and implement them… then I really hope that we can look back and say we’re glad it happened when it did.
“But only time will tell.”
After a turbulent 2022 and a 12-game undefeated streak, the All Blacks up-and-down journey to this Rugby World Cup has been ‘a long time coming’.
After the disappointment of the 2019 semi-final to England, New Zealand finally have a chance to atone for the missed chance in Japan.
Cane said all the focus is now on “nailing” their key pool clash against France in the tournament opener.
“I think it’s probably natural. The build up has been a long time coming,” Cane said.
“There is a lot riding on it. We know that but we’re pretty excited by the challenge and we know that anything can happen.
“All our efforts are going into nailing this first game and we’ll reset and continue that path. It’s cool that it’s finally here.”
The team was boosted by the news that Scott Barrett had escaped further punishment after his two yellow cards against South Africa.
The Crusaders lock can now suit up against France which was shaping to be a problem for the All Blacks with Brodie Retallick and Shannon Frizell nursing injuries.
The selectors opted to select an extra outside back in the World Cup squad over a lock.
Josh Lord was called upon to play against the Springboks, but the Chiefs’ second rower is not in the official 33-man squad.
Prop Tyrel Lomax, who suffered a deep cut to the thigh against South Africa, is not expected to be fit in time to play against France and remains the casualty from the one-off Test.