ISRAEL Dagg has revealed New Zealand's sense of "great relief" at ending a 24-year wait to be crowned world champions.
But France almost turned the dream into a nightmare, pushing Dagg and company closer than anyone could realistically have imagined before conceding an 8-7 defeat at Eden Park.
"It's pretty awesome to win a World Cup at home," said full-back Dagg, as preparations began for three days of public celebrations with the squad in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. "It is a great relief. We were under a lot of pressure, but that comes with being at home in the World Cup.
"I am just proud to be a Kiwi at the moment. To get that win for New Zealand, for the team, for everyone -- it's awesome."
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw hailed his team's courage and desire during the closest and lowest-scoring final in World Cup history.
"It wasn't very pretty, but it came down to how much desire, how much courage the boys had," McCaw said. "A lot of guys have put a lot of effort in for a long time, and they weren't going to let the opportunity go."