Kevin Sinfield insists England were more deserving of a place in the World Cup final after suffering a last-gasp defeat to New Zealand at Wembley.
Shaun Johnson's try earned the Kiwi's a dramatic 20-18 victory to set up a repeat of the last World Cup final in 2008.
England fought back from 14-8 down to lead 18-14 but they conceded a last-minute penalty for a needless high tackle on Sonny Bill Williams and Johnson jinked over to level the scores before kicking the conversion to send the defending champions into the final.
Leeds skipper Sinfield, 33, who has played in the last three World Cups, expects it will take a couple of weeks for his semi-final heartache to sink in.
"I'm pretty devastated," said Sinfield, who missed the tackle that enabled his opposite number Shaun Johnson to score the match-winning try in the last play of the match.
"We gave it everything we had. To be so close yet so far away at the end is horrible.
"I actually felt the best team lost. To lose in the last 20 seconds is a killer. I don't think by any means we had the game won but I felt we were in control."
England have been dogged by controversy throughout the tournament, with Rangi Chase this week becoming the third player to exit the camp, but they put the latest off-field distraction behind them to push the world champions all the way in a Wembley thriller.
Sinfield believes the World Cup has demonstrated there is a bright future for the England team, whether or not he remains an integral part of it.
"The support has been tremendous, certainly today," he said. "They didn't deserve the result in the end. Unfortunately, we've got to carry that with us.
"I'm sure in the next couple of weeks what's happened will sink in but I think we've made some huge strides over the last three years and certainly the last seven or eight weeks has showed that English rugby has a future.
"I certainly won't play in another World Cup but going forward I'm not quite sure.
"We've made some strides as a group and I think we should celebrate that and wish New Zealand all the best for the final.
"Going forward, hopefully in the next couple of tournaments we can bring some silverware back."