Graham Henry labelled New Zealand’s performance as ‘outstanding’ after the All Blacks booked their place in the 2011 World Cup Final on Sunday.
The host nation were a cut above Australia with a score from Ma’a Nonu, four Piri Weepu penalties and an Aaron Cruden drop-goal sealing the win.
And for coach Henry, who has led the All Blacks to their first final in sixteen years, it was a very proud moment and one that he enjoyed soaking up.
“I thought it was an outstanding performance. The boys were heroic out there and I’m very proud of them,” he told the post-match press conference.
Next up for the host nation will be a clash with familiar World Cup foes France at this same venue, with Henry keen to keep feet grounded.
“We just need to build again for next week and get the same thing hopefully,” he continued.
“The job hasn’t been done yet and I think it’s very important that we understand that and we get our feet back on the ground in the next two days and build again for this Test. In all honesty I thought the guys’ character was superb tonight and you can’t ask for more than that. The defence was quite outstanding but the job is not done.”
Richie McCaw was superb for the All Blacks in winning his personal battle with David Pocock while Israel Dagg and Cory Jane starred at the back. But while agreeing that the duo and young fly-half Cruden had played well, flanker McCaw was quick to spread the praise.
“I thought the guys you mentioned were outstanding but they only function well too with everyone doing their job and I thought one to fifteen we were outstanding,” he said.
“Up front if you look through the guys who came on, they have all played a lot of rugby and they set the tone but when you see the ball going in the air and the back-three take it and return the kicks with interest, the big boys enjoy that. They are special players and it’s great to have them in the team and doing their job.
One other area the All Blacks enjoyed dominance in Auckland on Sunday was at scrum-time, with McCaw admitting that mini-battle was one that usually pays dividends in Tests.
“If you get a good scrum it’s ball to attack from. We were disciplined and got reward and I thought we worked at it during the game and when it mattered, big scrums changed momentum,” he added before explaining when he knew the game was in the bag.
“Packing down for that last scrum I looked at Will Genia and he said ‘well done’. But as Graham said it’s job done for this week and we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves. We have given ourselves a chance and now we have to put a performance together that’s the same if not better next week.”
By Adam Kyriacou at Eden Park