James Hook believes Wales can finish their look forward to a Rugby World Cup closing look and ease the ache of a final-4 defeat in 2011 that he says nonetheless hurts.
Wales meet South Africa within the semi-closing on Sunday, and Ospreys again Hook admits the recollections of dropping 9-8 to France eight years in the past will come flooding again earlier than kick-off.
On that moist Auckland night time, the fates appeared to conspire against Wales – whether or not it was Sam Warburton’s early purple card, an damage to influential prop Adam Jones, Hook slipping over in taking a kick, or Leigh Halfpenny’s lengthy-vary penalty miss on the dying.
“It still hurts – 100 per cent,” Hook advised the PA information company.
“For everybody that was concerned. The gamers, administration and workers. 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.
“A whole lot of the boys have been so younger and fearless and felt they may 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 within the air, leaving the Frenchman crashing onto his again and referee Alain Rolland reaching for a purple card.
Hook mentioned: “At first I assumed ‘that’s a terrific deal with’. It was solely while you noticed it slowed down that you just realised it most likely 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 try to we have been proper in it till the tip. We had alternatives to win it after which got here Leigh’s kick.
“He struck it fairly properly, nevertheless it fell simply quick. It was agonising and I simply bear in mind how devastated everyone 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 endure a 21-18 defeat to Australia within the bronze closing – a recreation Hook says was “difficult to get up for”.
New Zealand would finally be topped world champions for the second time after edging out France 8-7 in a nervy closing.
Eight years on and Gatland’s Wales reign is nearing its finish. A few of Hook’s former group-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 mentioned.
“Gatland has all the time prided himself on the physicality of his groups, getting over the achieve line and enjoying off momentum ball.
“Wales have gained the final 4 video games against South Africa and gained’t worry them.
“However South Africa have gained loads during the last 12 months and are a greater group 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.”