Former New Zealand hooker Anton Oliver has said comments comparing the All Blacks changing room after their World Cup loss with World War I trenches were taken out of context.
Oliver, a former All Black captain, was responding to a piece published in The Listener magazine responding to his comments after the team's World Cup quarter-final defeat to France in Cardiff.
The front-rower, now with Toulon, told former team-mate Andrew Mehrtens on TV3: "I have just finished reading Massacre at Passchendaele and also All Quiet on the Western Front, and in both of those books they describe no man's land quite clearly and vividly.
"And that is what it felt like in the players' changing room and in their hearts and minds. It feels desolate, decay, the putrid smell of, I don't know, death.
"That is a bit dramatic but you kind of know what I mean. It is just nothing, and no man's land is a place where nothing exists and that is what's happening, that is what it feels like."
In his piece in the magzaine, veteran journalist Biil Ralston retorted: "Oh, take a big cup of shut up, Anton!
Passchendaele was this tiny country's worst military disaster.
In a single day, thousands of Kiwi soldiers were killed or maimed. You simply lost a footie match and a $100,000 (GBP 38,000) bonus."
In his letter to the editor, Oliver said he had made "no such literal comparison".
"He chose to isolate one sentence of a metaphor and failed to give the context," he said.
"Collectively, we truly believed we could win, that we were going to win, that the rotation policy, the conditioning window and the on-field tactics would see us victorious.
"After 80 minutes, it turns out we were wrong. In our shed, silence reverberated, broken only by the wails of a few who couldn't internalise in solitude any longer. I was trying to help people understand what it was like, what it felt like.
"But then, Bill, how could you possibly know? Indeed, how will you ever know?"