Match-winner Stephen Donald, who not too long ago was whitebaiting in Hamilton, was delighted to become an All Black hero in Auckland on Sunday.
Donald kicked his country to glory at Eden Park as they saw off the French 8-7 in a closely-faught encounter that ended 24 years of Webb Ellis hurt.
And it was quite a World Cup debut for the former Chiefs man as he emerged from the sidelines for an injured Aaron Cruden just before half-time.
“It’s a funny sort of feeling. I’m just fortunate to get the opportunity to come into such a great team,” he said about making his RWC debut in a Final.
“There are people out there who undermined my status as an All Black. To get the chance to prove that I am an All Black is good. I think a World Cup Final is a pretty good place to start.”
On his decisive penalty kick, Donald admitted he wasn’t nervous when lining up the effort.
“At the time I didn’t think much of it. It was just a kick out in front and I just put it over,” he said.
“I haven’t kicked a ball in about six weeks. At the time I didn’t think it would be important, but it turned out that way.
“My mates are probably thinking ‘there’s the bloke who was kicking back with a few beers and going whitebaiting with us out in the middle of Eden Park’.”
Meanwhile, retiring lock Brad Thorn struggled to hold back the emotion of becoming a world champion for his country after what’s been a fine career for the former rugby league forward.
“I’m just humbled. I’m too emotional,” he said.
“I’ll be talking about this when I’ve got no teeth.
“You think of all the hard work, just busting your guts. But I’m just part of a great team.”
By Adam Kyriacou at Eden Park