All Black Sam Cane reveals if World Cup loss influenced Test retirement

Outgoing All Blacks captain Sam Keane has revealed that last year's agonizing defeat in the Rugby World Cup final did not contribute to his decision to retire from international football at the end of the year.

Kane, who played 95 Tests, became the first man in World Cup history to be sent off after receiving a red card midway through the first half against eventual champions South Africa at the Stade de France.

New Zealand was valiant in its efforts to fight against South Africa but could not quite get the job done. About 30 minutes after the final whistle, captain Keane said the red card was something he “will have to live with forever”.

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It's been almost seven months and the All Blacks are preparing to enter a new era under coach Scott Robertson. Cane will be available to contribute to any New Zealand rugby success this year before retiring from Test matches.

32-year-old Kane recently announced his surprise decision to step away from international football at the end of 2024 after signing a three-year contract in Japan with Tokyo Songoliat. The Kiwi has since explained that the emotional and mental toll of last year's World Cup loss was not a factor.

“I wouldn't say it happened… I don't think so,” Kane said. The Rock Morning Rumble Radio program. “In my opinion, it never really entered into the decision-making process.

“There's no doubt that the last year has taken a lot out of me, emotionally and probably mentally.

“This break here – even though I've been rehabilitating for the last two months – has been good, and I'm very motivated to come back and still be available for selection.

“Even though it's my final year, I feel I still have a lot to offer the group, especially knowing that so many senior members of the All Blacks squad have moved on.

“I have a little bit to add there, not just off the field, but hopefully on it.”

It was very difficult to watch Kane find the words to sum up how he was feeling after the decisive match in last year's World Cup. With the weight and support of the nation resting on their shoulders, the All Blacks failed to achieve their goal.

Kane's red card was a major talking point after the biggest game in men's rugby, and continued for weeks, if not months. But when the All Blacks returned home, they were met with neither rejection nor disappointment.

The All Blacks, led by captain Keane, overcame some tough opposition on their way to the final, including Ireland in the quarter-finals and Argentina a week later. New Zealand praised their efforts while the players thought they had “failed”.

“From years of what we've seen from the New Zealand public…a lot of that comes with the expectations and pressure of us all being black, and a lot of that external pressure also pushes us to be fair,” Kahn explained.

“We were very sad, and really unfortunate that we were just a point or two away from achieving something so special under the circumstances. Then we came back with that response, and we were really proud – it definitely helped in the healing process.

“Even the response at the airport…we didn't expect anyone to be there, but there were people holding signs. It made us feel very proud of what we were able to achieve, even though in our minds we had failed.


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