Keven Mealamu could only offer a rueful laugh and shake his head.
Despite the delight of having a rare All Blacks centurion's cap perched on his scarred head, the champion hooker knew his big night had turned to muck.
While the All Blacks managed an 18-all draw, their gloomy demeanour reflected their annoyance they had failed to mark Mealamu's 100th test with a victory.
Like many of his team-mates Mealamu was off his game at Suncorp Stadium and despite some heartfelt words from skipper Richie McCaw during his cap presentation, there will be few reasons to watch match replays.
"We probably weren't as accurate as we would have liked to be," Mealamu lamented. "We had quite a few penalties that we shouldn't have given away and handling errors really stopped us getting some momentum. We couldn't finish."
After the match he was joined on the field by his family, but wished they had more to celebrate. He calculated a "tribe of 30" had travelled to Brisbane.
Although down 12 -6 at the break, the All Blacks, with ex-Kiwi Mike Harris kicking four of the Aussies' penalties to Carter's two, plotted to reduce their errors and undermine their opponents by squeezing them at the set pieces and in defence.
It came to nothing. "The talk at halftime was we were still right in this game and we hadn't even fired any shots," Mealamu reflected.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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