Kieran Read left with mixed feelings after 100th test
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — All Blacks captain Kieran Read hoped to celebrate his 100th test match with a win which would clinch a series victory over the British and Irish Lions.
When the third test at Eden Park on Saturday ended in a 15-15 draw and the three-test series in a tie, Read admitted he was left with mixed feelings about his achievement in becoming the seventh New Zealander to reach 100 tests.
In time, he thought, he might reflect on the match, the series and his achievement with more satisfaction but on the night of a stalemated match his feelings were raw and still conflicted.
"It's a bit of a hollow feeling, I guess, a draw," Read said. "We don't turn up on a Saturday and want to draw or want to lose so it feels a little bit that way.
"I think we'll look back on the series and a draw is better than a loss. But right now it's mixed. I'm proud at making 100 tests but I'd probably swap all of them for a win to be honest."
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen praised Read's achievement in playing 100 tests in modern rugby and, as a backrower, in one of the most physical roles on the field.
"For a bloke to play 100 test matches for any country is amazing and we haven't had too many do it in New Zealand," he said. "To get one game is magnificent but to get 100 and play as well as this guy has ... he's become a real warrior and a great leader for the team.
"It doesn't matter about the result when you start talking about his 100 games. He thoroughly deserved every one of his test matches and he has added to the legacy and will continue to do so."
Hansen was asked, given the feeling of frustration among players from both teams that the three-test series had ended without a clear winner, whether he would support extra time in future series. He was quick to dismiss the suggestion and to embrace a draw as a fair reflection of the series.
"I'd like to think that we could win it 3-0 or they could win it 2-1," he said. "If it comes down to it, everyone is a bit hollow today because of the last three minutes (when the match was decided).
Saying that "maybe a drawn series was fair," Hansen added: "We played well in the first one, they played well in the second one and we probably did enough to win it and they did enough to hang in ... and got a couple of breaks.
"Rugby's always had a draw and it's not a World Cup final, it is a three-match series. My own belief is probably leave it the way it is. If you're good enough to get a drawn series then both teams deserve the credit that will come from that."
Hansen praised the Lions' contribution to a "fantastic three-match series."
"Both teams have played their hearts out and it's come down to the wire and we've ended up with a hand on the trophy each which is a bit like kissing your sister ... there's not a lot in it for anybody."