South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer admits his side deserve to be underdogs for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup semi-final but insists New Zealand can be beaten.
Reports in New Zealand and Britain questioned whether the blow could lead to McCaw being cited ahead of Saturday’s final against either Australia or Argentina.
The citing officer has up to 36 hours after the match has ended to lodge a complaint, setting 7pm on Monday (NZT) as the deadline.
They came together after 20 minutes of the All Blacks’ 20-18 victory and an initial replay of the incident suggested he could be facing a suspension.
Matfield, whose tournament was hampered by a hamstring injury, said the team had done well to come back from their opening loss against Japan and while they may have lost, they came extremely close to going through to the final.
Coach Steve Hansen earlier dismissed the allegations of foul play by McCaw as nonsense, and wasn’t at all concerned he would be banned from the final.
“Nothing in it, so there’s nothing to talk about”, Hansen told a Sunday news conference.
“He’s a man that draws a lot of attention because he’s been a great player, probably the greatest player who has played for the All Blacks, and maybe in the history of the game”, said Hansen. It is a mark of respect.
“The team that can deal with that and take the moments on offer will be the one that succeeds”.
They need to increase the intensity and physicality they delivered against South Africa and piece together an effort that all involved can safely say is the best produced in the last four years.
Champions in 1987 and 2011, the All Blacks will play either Australia or Argentina in next weekend’s decider as they bid to become the first nation to win back-to-back titles. It was always going to be that way but we’ve got a crack at it next week. “He has been praising us all week and, while I know he means a few of it, I know they’re getting ready to rip our heads off. If we go lapping up all the praise, then we won’t be in the right mental state to play”.
“You know I recover well and I’m looking forward to (the final)”.
“The lessons we have learned from Sydney and Eden Park we’ve already applied in our game and put into practice”. There’ll be enough excitement but, also, knowing in the back of our minds we could have done better last week.
“I want to thank all the people for their support, I am really sorry we let them down today”, he added after the 20-18 defeat at a rain-sodden Twickenham. “The final will be energising in its own right”.
The All Blacks have also reached their fourth final. We could have been sitting on the ground there knowing four years’ hard work was over. “It’s up to us to do something special, do something extra, to just be competitive, and we’ll see what happens from there”.
Nobody in the sport – apart from perhaps his opponents this week – would probably begrudge Carter the ultimate farewell after gracing the game for more than a decade but suffering more than his share of heartache.