Rugby World Cup 2019: Ryan Crotty struggles to say goodbye to All Blacks environment

All Blacks midfielder Ryan Crotty admits it's hard to come to grips with the fact his time in the black jersey is over, after New Zealand's bronze medal win over Wales at the Rugby World Cup. 

Crotty is one of several players moving on after the World Cup, with the 31-year-old joining Japanese club side Kubota Spears.

The 48-test veteran has had limited time in the black jersey over the years, overcoming concussion and even thumb surgery 10 weeks before the World Cup began. 

Crotty, who scored a try in his final test, admitted it would take some time to sink in that his journey with the All Blacks was over. 

"You probably saw a few of us old guys lingering around on the field for a little bit longer than we should've been," Crotty said, in response to how he's feeling after his final test.

Rugby World Cup 2019: Ryan Crotty struggles to say goodbye to All Blacks environment

"It'll sink in over the next couple of days, I'm sure. I was just mindful to enjoy myself and enjoy the moments that the game would give me and hang on to them.

"What I love about the game is the connections with your mates. Just so sincerely, I'll just miss my mates. I'll miss every morning you wake up, chuck on the team chat 'you want to go grab a coffee?', two or three of the boys can. 

"You just miss that, you can't get it anywhere else. We're a special group, we're nice and tight."

Crotty only featured in three games at the World Cup, and after last weekend's 19-7 loss to England, the midfielder said it was important to bounce back against Wales. 

"The jersey demanded tonight, and how much we care about each other, how tight the group is and how much we just wanted to fill the jersey tonight but just do it for each other. 

"I think you saw that in how we defended, the desire was there to work hard for your mate and that was a cool part of tonight."

Adding to that, he said it was important to win for departing captain Kieran Read, who will resume his career in Japan as well. 

"He's a special man. He deserves to be lifting the trophy tomorrow night, but it's just not the way it goes. 

"He's been massive for this team. He leads from the front every week and during the week as well.

"I've played a lot of games with my old mate. It'll be nice to connect over the next few days." 

Crotty is confident the young All Blacks players will benefit from the semi-final defeat at the World Cup, which will serve them in good stead heading into 2023. 

"You learn a lot from adversity. You learn from your losses, don't you?

"We've always bounced back from them and I think we'll learn a lot from this. 

"Success is a horrible teacher, unfortunately. We'll learn from this and the guys that carry on this All Blacks legacy, I'm sure they'll learn from that and steer it in the right direction."

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