New Zealand coach Michael Maguire admitted he is “shattered” for his players following their World Cup exit, but is “super proud” of their efforts.
The Kiwis, who are ranked number one in the world, fell short to a 16-14 defeat to reigning champions Australia in a thrilling contest at Elland Road on Friday.
New Zealand were 14-10 in front at the break but it wasn’t to be as the Kangaroos booked their place in their 12th World Cup final in a row.
“I’m definitely proud of my players, that’s for sure,” Maguire said after the game.
“It was one helluva game and it was down to the bounce of a ball, that’s what a test match is all about.
“There were a couple of moments in the game where it could have gone either way. Unfortunately for our boys it didn’t go our way.
“I’m super proud of what they’ve been able to build amongst themselves and how they’ve gone about the tour.
“I’m really pleased with how they’ve come together within the group. There’s a real brotherhood within the group.
“I really believe they are closing the gap in a big way at this level. Our players being able to play more games at this level to be able to then learn how to find the moments on what it takes to win it. In saying that, we had a couple of moments that, if it went our way, it’d be a different story. But I’m really proud.”
Michael Maguire “super proud” of his players
Maguire is proud of the way the Kiwi players have gone about their business in this World Cup. They defeated Ireland, Jamaica, Lebanon and Fiji before going down to Australia.
“I’m shattered for my players,” Maguire added. “But it’s been a really good tour with them.
“They are a great group and the staff have been excellent. They’ve really enjoyed the time they’ve spent together so it’s more about how we are feeling as a group.
“They are disappointed because they put so much into it every week since they’ve been away. Over the journey I’ve been talking to the players about the World Cup, they’ve all been dedicated to make sure they turn up and represent themselves, their families and the country.
“They wanted to win for their country, you could feel that everyday that they were here. I’m super proud of the players, I just feel for them because you look at your players and they deserve the opportunity to go again next week.”
Australia face the winner of England and Samoa, who played in the other semi-final at the Emirates on Saturday.
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