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Sunday 11 December 2016

All Blacks set to rule the world for years to come

Sonny Bill warns 'crazy' talent coming through

New Zealand's Richie McCaw with the Webb Ellis Cup during the press conference
New Zealand's Richie McCaw with the Webb Ellis Cup during the press conference
A boy displays the winners' medal given to him by Sonny Bill Williams of New Zealand after the Rugby World Cup Final against Australia at Twickenham
New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams celebrates winning the Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham, London

Sonny Bill Williams has no doubt that New Zealand's enviable talent production line will continue to roll as the All Blacks begin life without some of their World Cup-winning stars.

Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith are all heading to France on lucrative club deals, while captain Richie McCaw remains the subject of intense speculation that he will soon call time on his stellar 148-cap Test career.

Williams, though, believes the back-to-back world champions are in a rude state of health, with their latest Webb Ellis Cup triumph seeing previously unheralded prospects like Nehe Milner-Skudder, who scored six tries in the tournament, Malakai Fekitoa and Sam Cane among those given opportunities.

"They are legends in their own right," Williams said of the departing players. "Us boys knew that we had a job to do to see those fellas off as winners.

"But you ask all the New Zealand media, and they will tell you that the talent in New Zealand is crazy.

New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams celebrates winning the Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham, London
New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams celebrates winning the Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham, London

"We will just have to wait and see who the new names are, but those guys are going to be special again.

"This (winning the World Cup again) would have to be the biggest accomplishment. The quality of players is second to none.

"I am happy to be a part of something that hasn't been done before. Back-to-back world champions is awesome, but winning a World Cup in the northern hemisphere is really special."

Williams, whose contributions off the bench proved a key part of New Zealand's success, also paid a glowing tribute to All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen.

"He just relates to everyone," Williams added.

"He is the funny guy, but then again he is the serious man, and he's got the respect of the group.

"For myself, he's just a coach that I want to play for, and I am pretty sure most of the boys feel the same way. When you are playing for your coach and for your brothers it brings out special performances."

Williams proved to be the post-match centre of attention at Twickenham when he presented his World Cup winner's medal to a young fan tackled by security guards when trying to celebrate with the All Blacks after they had beaten Australia 34-17.

All Blacks supporter Charlie Lines tried to race on to the pitch to celebrate with his heroes, only to be accosted by stewards.

Williams was then pictured meeting the boy and draping his winner's medal around the youngster's neck.

"A young fella came sprinting on and he got smoked by the security guard," the 30-year-old said. "It was pretty sad. He's just a young fella obviously caught up in the moment.

"Why not try and make a young fella's night? Hopefully, he'll remember it for a while.

"I know he will appreciate it, and when he gets older he will be telling kids. That is more special than it just hanging on a wall."

Fly-half Carter was the man of the hour in the 34-17 victory. Carter slotted a key long-range drop goal and 50 metre penalty in a 19-point haul to help seal the win against old rivals Australia, and claimed the man of the match award in his last outing in an All Blacks shirt.

"He is one of the great players and for him to come out and show all his skills tonight ... it is pretty special," said New Zealand coach Steve Hansen.

"It's a great way to finish. You couldn't script it any better."

Carter, who had to watch from the stands as New Zealand claimed their 2011 win after suffering a groin injury in the pool stage, was elated to have been part of such a special team.

"I'm pretty grateful to be where I am considering what happened four years ago," Carter said.

"I'm so proud of the team. To win back-to-back World Cups is a dream come true. It's a pretty strong group of guys. We try to do things no other team has done before ... it's a special feeling to be part of such a great team."

Carter's second-half drop goal, which came after the Wallabies had fought back to within four points, was the first in a World Cup final since Jonny Wilkinson's famous kick in 2003 which clinched the title for England.

"The way he was striking the ball tonight he was going to get it. It was just his day," Wilkinson told ITV.

Former All Black flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens said: "To see him in this sort of a moment, the accuracy and clinical precision of his kicking and general play, it's fantastic for him. But he'll be the first to say it's not about him, it's about the team."

Captain Richie McCaw said: "We said four years ago that we get on the road again with this being the end goal, try and do something no one else has done. I'm so proud of the guys. We lost a bit of momentum in the second half but we kept our composure and came back strong."

Asked about the Australian comeback, he said: "I wouldn't say anxious. I knew the momentum was against us but we've been in those situations before.

"It's a matter of not panicking. I've done it many times over the years, but to do it in a World Cup final shows the calibre of men we've got."

Even Australia captain Stephen Moore was in awe of the class shown by the men in black.

"It is all about New Zealand, they thoroughly deserve the win they were best team all tournament," said Moore.

"Sometimes you come up against a better team and that was us tonight."

Australia head coach Michael Cheika said: "We fought back bravely, but they're the world champions and they deserve to be. I always believed, even at the end - but it wasn't to be.

"New Zealand won fair and square and they've been the form team since the last World Cup. We wanted to challenge them tonight, and I think we did, but we just came up short."

(Editing by Mitch Phillips/Peter Rutherford)

rugby world cup final: new zealand 34 australia 17

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