WALLABIES coach Michael Cheika said he was proud of his team's character in the 34-17 World Cup final loss to the All Blacks.

The Australians fought back to 21-17 midway through the second half after the New Zealanders led 21-3 two minutes after the break.

A drop goal and a penalty from man of the match Dan Carter in the final 10 minutes stretched the lead to 10 points but it wasn't until a late Beauden Barrett try that the game was sewn up.

"The number [final score] didn't matter in the end," Cheika said.

"It's obviously very painful to lose, it's a great campaign and we wanted to carry it on.

"I felt 35 minutes was enough time for us to claw our way back and change the momentum of the contest, which we did.

"Then 24-17, even seven points for a [converted] try could have taken the game into extra-time.

"We could have easily gone home, but the heart and the courage that has been built in this team meant we didn't want to do that.

Richie McCaw and Dan Carter with the William Webb Ellis trophy.
Richie McCaw and Dan Carter with the William Webb Ellis trophy. Getty Images

New Zealand had lost just three matches since winning the 2011 World Cup, although one of those defeats by Australia came in August as the Wallabies clinched the Rugby Championship.

Cheika the rest of the world could challenge the All Blacks' supremacy by sticking to their guns.

"Just stay at it and keep trying to improve," he said.

"I think we've made good ground in that area in the last 12 months.

"We are just starting and want to do really good things for Australian rugby going forward."

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