What Aaron Smith said about All Black World Cup final on Sunday

When Aaron Smith entered the mixed zone following New Zealand’s victory over Argentina, hardly anyone inquired about the match. The abysmal World Cup semi-final was a topic best left unspoken.

Conversations centered on three key themes: regrets, retirement, and redemption. The All Black wasted no time delving into the emotions that had tormented him since 2019, when his team was crushed by England in the Yokohama semi-final.

Without that humbling experience, Smith might not be in his current position. The 34-year-old scrum-half, boasting 124 caps and a 2015 World Cup winner’s medal, is in the final week of his All Black career, driven by a burning desire to make amends for what transpired four years ago.

He reflected, “Disappointment, devastation, a sense of letting the nation down – it lingers indefinitely. I haven’t managed to move past it, and it has been a powerful motivator for me. I’m a passionate individual, and I harness emotions like that to fuel my motivation. Leaving Japan in 2019, I was consumed by the desire to rectify the situation.”

Aaron Smith commits to NZR and Highlanders through to 2023 | Highlanders  Rugby Club Limited Partnership

Smith added, “If I could maintain discipline, set objectives, and stay focused, I could attempt another World Cup. I wouldn’t be here at 34 years old if I didn’t have that burning aspiration to excel and become a better player.”

He continued, “This is the essence of why we play sports – to be in a position to vie for a World Cup is exceptionally special. We’ve progressed further in this tournament, and we’re heading to the grand finale.”

In Friday’s match, the All Blacks confidently finished with only 14 players, as the management decided not to reinstate Scott Barrett following his yellow card. Will Jordan scored a hat-trick, equalling Jonah Lomu’s record for World Cup tries.

Smith’s next season will see him relocating to Japan, where he will observe the upcoming generation of All Blacks from a distance. He emphasized, “We have one more week, and it’s a genuine one – competing in the final, not for third and fourth place. I’ve been through the kind of week that’s all about the third and fourth spot, and it’s far from enjoyable. This week promises a lot of excitement.”

In summary, Aaron Smith remains haunted by the 2019 World Cup defeat, and his burning desire to redeem that loss is what keeps him motivated. As he approaches the end of his All Black career, he eagerly anticipates the upcoming World Cup final and the challenge it presents.

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