Argentina head coach Michael Cheika said he and his players were “hurting” after their 44-6 Rugby World Cup semi-final pummelling by New Zealand, but insisted “they will be ready” for next week’s third-placed playoff.
The Pumas received a rugby lesson from the All Blacks at the Stade de France on Friday and although Cheika had qualms over the refereeing by his fellow Australian, Angus Gardner, the latter was not the difference.
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Cheika will have to rouse his battered players for the consolation prize of securing third place in Friday’s match against the loser of Saturday’s semi-final between England and South Africa.
Should they win they would equal their best previous performance at a World Cup, in 2007, also in France.
“Right now we’re hurting, but we will be ready on Friday,” said the 56-year-old at the post-match press conference.
Cheika, speaking in Spanish, said he had not cried at the end but he had felt sad when he saw his children were crying on the pitch.
“Emotions are important but me, I don’t cry, but that’s because my job is not over yet,” he said.
“On Friday we will have played seven games in the World Cup. Only four teams will have played seven.”
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However, despite an absence of tears from the former No 8 it did not mean he took the defeat in his stride.
“I used to play rugby, I don’t like losing, never, but it’s not a sad moment, but a moment where I’m actually proud of my team,” he said.
“We’re in the semi-final of the World Cup.
“It’s not an easy path we’ve been on. We’ve invested ourselves a lot in this. “But we lost on details.” Cheika, who was World Coach of the Year in 2015 for taking an unfancied Australia side to the World Cup final where they lost to the All Blacks, said the players had done the country proud.
“Of course, I’m sad for them, they made such an effort, they so much wanted to win, for the country, the fans, to do their absolute best,” said Cheika.
“But on Friday, we will be there, have no doubt. We cannot leave like this, we will be back and we will be stronger.”
The Argentinians did have a fair amount of possession in the first-half but time and time again when they pressed the All Blacks they were penalised by Gardner.
“I wasn’t very happy with refereeing in the first half, especially in the rucks,” said Cheika.
“I think it’s his way of doing things.
“Every time we were in their 22m we encountered the same problem.
“Over 20 years, I’ve realised that if I’m happy or not, it makes no difference.”
Cheika conceded, though, that their mistakes cost them dearly with the All Blacks always coming away with points.
“That’s the game, brother.”
Source website: www.foxsports.com.au