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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 November, 2003, 11:35 GMT
Thorne hails players
Reuben Thorne
Thorne put on a brave face

New Zealand captain Reuben Thorne paid tribute to his team-mates after their 40-13 victory over France in the World Cup.

The All Blacks claimed third spot by virtue of their comfortable win in Sydney.

But Thorne admitted the semi-final defeat to defending champions Australia was still hurting.

"We didn't get what we wanted and we were pretty heartbroken about that," he said. "But the tournament has been great for rugby all around the world."

He added: "We had to move on - and the guys have done well after what was a very shattering event."

Coach John Mitchell echoed his captain's sentiments.

"It's been a very difficult week. Such a short turnaround and to get up and get a very good result, is a credit to them," he said of his players.

And Mitchell reiterated he had no intention of quitting his post as coach and said he had been put under "no pressure" to resign.

"It's really up to my employers. I have no intentions of resigning," he confirmed.

Asked if he would have changed anything about his team's World Cup campaign, Mitchell replied: "I wouldn't have done anything differently".

But he did say that both his mainly youthful side and the coaching staff had "lacked maturity" against Australia.

"Maybe we under-estimated that," he said.

We wanted to leave 2003 with a win under our belt and play some decent footy to show what we are about
Richie McCaw
Mitchell drew a parallel with England's experiences four years ago when they opted to retain the services of coach Clive Woodward, despite losing at the quarter-final stage.

"Sometimes you have to go through an experience like this. This group of players is quite youthful and this will hopefully stand them in good stead.

"England had a similar experience in 1999 and they bounced back."

He denied suggestions that New Zealand's policy of all-out attack, which had seen them sweep all before them in this year's Tri-Nations, was the wrong way for the country to add to its lone World Cup won on home soil at the inaugural 1987 tournament.

"I fully believe in our style. We've scored 81 tries in 2003, 40 of them by wingers. I believe it's a wonderful way to play."

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