Springbok captain Fourie du Preez says he may have played last game for his country

South Africa scrum-half breaks tooth in semi-final defeat by All Blacks and could miss bronze final

LONDON, 24 Oct - South Africa captain Fourie du Preez says Saturday's semi-final defeat by New Zealand is likely to be his last game for his country after he picked up a facial injury.

Du Preez (pictured) finished the match with a swollen eye and cheekbone and is doubtful for the bronze final on Friday.

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Asked about his future, a dejected du Preez said: "I don't know if that was my last game, I'll see how the injury goes. That was probably my last game. I have got a broken tooth and I will be getting a check on my cheekbone tomorrow, but they don’t think it’s broken.

Hard to take

"It’s a bit emotional and hard to take," added the 33-year-old scrum-half. "One lineout, one penalty, one conversion... that’s all the difference was. It was so close and the margins are so small, so there is a lot of disappointment. We had an opportunity and we didn’t take it."

Coach Heyneke Meyer said he felt South Africa should have won the game but failed to cope with the Twickenham rain.

While the Springboks were in the changing rooms, New Zealand made the unusual decision to spend some of the half-time break doing drills on the pitch as rain began to pour down. Trailing 12-7 at the interval, the All Blacks turned the game around in the second half for a 20-18 victory.

"I thought we had a perfect first half, executed well, our discipline was 100 per cent intact and built scoreboard pressure," Meyer said. "I don't think we adapted well to the rainy conditions. We made some mistakes and that was the difference between winning and losing.

Missed opportunity

"We had a chance and we didn't take it. We should have been in the final and I will never settle for second."

Meyer and his squad faced fierce criticism after the Springboks were upset by Japan in their opening pool game. 

Asked about his future, Meyer said: "You can see how grey I am but I have always said I am here to serve. I'm just thinking about today."

Kept their nerve

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said he was impressed by the way his team kept their nerve.

"It was always going to be close, they're a great side and they showed that again today. I was really proud of our guys, they kept their composure," he said.

Asked what he was thinking at half-time, Hansen added: "We just needed to come out and start taking the game to them, rather than waiting for them to take it to us. We talked about keeping composure."

RNS aw/pc/ns

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