There were plenty he could have reached for but gracious All Blacks coach Steve Hansen made no excuses after watching his team suffer their first loss of the season.
Dan Carter's injury, the vomiting and diarrhoea bug which swept through the camp and the fact the All Blacks hit a wall after 14 taxing post-World Cup tests were all issues Hansen could have blamed the record 38-21 defeat on.
Instead, Hansen dismissed all the aforementioned concerns and praised a breakthrough performance from a young, rebuilding English outfit that pressurised and rattled the All Blacks for the majority of a gripping test at Twickenham.
"We don't have any excuses. We were beaten by a better side," Hansen said. "We'll take that on the chin.
"I'd like to congratulate England on a tremendous performance. They thoroughly deserve their victory today. They should be very proud of what they've achieved. They played some magnificent football."
It's true. Credit must be given to England's rookies. There was no hint of fear. No inhibitions.
They took it to the All Blacks from the opening whistle to establish a 15-0 half-time lead from the boot of Owen Farrell.
The All Blacks closed within one point, with two quick tries to Julian Savea and Kieran Read, but Stuart Lancaster's men had all the answers.
Clearly, the first loss of Hansen's tenure as head coach of the All Blacks will take some time to get over.
"I don't know that we played well but were we allowed to that's the question," Hansen asked. "Right now how do I feel?
"Disappointed is the nicest way I can say it.
"You've got to accept it. We'll go away and have a look at what we have to do better. I'm sure we'll come back.
"Some guys will have to wait six months, the rest of us will have to wait until the next test to right that matter."
He was referring to the man on his right, All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, who will now stew over the uncharacteristic mistakes, lack of aggression at the breakdown, ill-discipline and absent composure, which blighted an otherwise unbeaten campaign, on his six month break.
Carrying memories of the All Blacks' equal second-largest test margin of defeat around the United States next year are sure to weigh down his backpack.
"It would have been nice to finish with a performance that we were happy with," McCaw said ahead of his sabbatical.
"The thing is you can't do anything about it right now. When you do get the chance again you will be hungry.
"All the boys will take a little while to get over it but they will come back next with a reminder of what it's all about.
"If there's a positive that's probably not a bad thing to have next year."
McCaw also swatted away suggestions sickness had weakened his side.
"No I don't think so. Had we fallen off at the end you could probably blame it on that but we struggled to get in the game right from the word go. Apart from that period just after half-time we were on the back foot which was disappointing," he said.
Behind a well beaten forward pack, Dan Carter had an off night.
The first five-eighth missed his first two penalties after making a remarkably swift recovery from an Achilles injury which he picked up at training in Cardiff last week.
"I was very confident. He trained well and kicked well yesterday," Hansen said of his star pivot.
"He missed a couple of kicks today you'd normally think he'd kick but sometimes that's what happens in sport. We can't use his injury as an excuse either."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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