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Samoan All Blacks react to third place finish

Samoan All Black, Richie Mo’unga was able to enjoy himself in New Zealand’s 40-17 win over Wales in the Rugby World Cup third place playoff.

After the game on Friday night, the first five spoke to Samoa Observer correspondent Satoshi Takehana.

Mo’unga said his team knew the game was their last opportunity of the year.

"It was really special to finish on that note and send the boys that are hanging up their black jersey, to make them proud and send them off on a good note," he said.

The 25-year-old had a few of those departing All Blacks in the backline outside him in fellow Samoan Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty and Ben Smith.

Williams is stepping away from New Zealand rugby almost a decade after making his All Blacks debut, and after the game he spoke to All Blacks TV:

“I loved playing for the All Blacks, love the jersey, but for me it’s more that I value the connections that I’ve built,” the 34-year-old said.

“Had a couple of moments during the week, and it was about looking back at the last 10 years, and ok yeah I’ve played over 50 tests but it’s about the growth, and the All Blacks has been a big part of that for me.

“To grow, become a better person and really embrace who I am, it’s been a journey alright.”

While Williams’ All Black career is ending, Mo’unga’s star is on the rise and he said to the Samoa Observer that he is hoping to use the World Cup experience to further his career:

"Whatever jumper I put on next, the next time I do put an All Black jersey on, if I do get that chance, really take this experience and take it forward in my game.

"If I do get another chance at the next World Cup to remember all these experiences and hopefully use it for next time."

After the disappointment of last week’s semifinal loss to England, Mo’unga said it was nice to be happy about playing well.

"Really grateful and really lucky to be out there with our friends, chucking the ball around,” he said.

"To do that on the world stage is awesome and to be able to do that at club footy when you're 10 years old is awesome as well. To be able to bring that fun back really helped us today."

Mo’unga said he had a lot more space and time on the ball than last week:

“It was just the way the game flowed. We sort of have a running mentality I guess, kicking was a sort of second option.

He said he is still thinking about that semifinal, and it still hurts.

“This is not the game we wanted to play,” he said.

“But we put that behind us and we have to finish on a happy note, thinking about the boys who finish with the All Blacks today, they put their bodies on the line, away from family and gave so much to this jersey, it’s nice to look around and see those guys are happy with the win today.

“End of the day, it’s just a game of footy, the game we enjoy because we are good at it. Sometimes you lose, that’s the opportunity. But we played really well today, and we are happy about it.”

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