James Hook believes Wales can finish their watch for a Rugby World Cup final look and ease the ache of a final-4 defeat in 2011 that he says nonetheless hurts.
Wales meet South Africa in the semi-final on Sunday, and Ospreys again Hook admits the reminiscences of shedding 9-8 to France eight years in the past will come flooding again earlier than kick-off.
On that moist Auckland evening, the fates appeared to conspire in opposition to Wales – whether or not it was Sam Warburton’s early purple card, an harm to influential prop Adam Jones, Hook slipping over in taking a kick, or Leigh Halfpenny’s lengthy-vary penalty miss at the loss of life.
“It still hurts – 100 per cent,” Hook instructed the PA information company.
“For everybody that was concerned. The gamers, administration and employees. The entire nation. We had such a great squad, nevertheless it wasn’t to be.
“It was so disappointing as a result of the squad confirmed how good they have been by occurring to win the Grand Slam in 2012 and the Six Nations in 2013.
“Lots of the boys have been so younger and fearless and felt they might beat anybody.
“New Zealand were probably not as good as they are now – and we fancied ourselves to win the World Cup.”
Hook had landed an early penalty at Eden Park and misplaced his footing in taking one other earlier than Warburton was banished after 19 minutes.
The Wales captain lifted Vincent Clerc off his ft with a giant hit after which turned him in the air, leaving the Frenchman crashing onto his again and referee Alain Rolland reaching for a purple card.
Hook stated: “At first I believed ‘that’s a terrific sort out’. It was solely once you noticed it slowed down that you simply realised it in all probability was a purple card.
“It was unlucky for Sam. It wasn’t a reckless problem, nevertheless it took the wind out of our sails.
“However Mike Phillips scored a attempt to we have been proper in it till the finish. We had alternatives to win it after which got here Leigh’s kick.
“He struck it fairly effectively, nevertheless it fell simply quick. It was agonising and I simply keep in mind how devastated all people was.
“Warren Gatland was obviously gutted like the rest of us, but there was not a lot he could say. Words don’t really help at that point.”
Wales would go on to undergo a 21-18 defeat to Australia in the bronze final – a sport Hook says was “difficult to get up for”.
New Zealand would ultimately be topped world champions for the second time after edging out France 8-7 in a nervy final.
Eight years on and Gatland’s Wales reign is nearing its finish. A few of Hook’s former staff-mates – Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies and Alun Wyn Jones – have a shot at World Cup redemption in Japan.
“It’s going to be a huge physical game,” Hook stated.
“Gatland has all the time prided himself on the physicality of his groups, getting over the acquire line and taking part in off momentum ball.
“Wales have received the final 4 video games in opposition to South Africa and received’t concern them.
“However South Africa have received loads over the final 12 months and are a greater staff than when Wales beat them final.
“South Africa have got some huge men in the pack, but if Wales can stop them there I don’t think there’s much between them. It’s a game they can win.”