What other All Black coach (in fact what other coach anywhere for that matter) can claim two NH grand slams, more Tri Nations trophies than you can shake a stick at, a whitewash of the British and Irish Lions and a vicelike grip on the Bledisloe cup - not to mention a continued world ranking of No 1 in world rugby? Sorry, but last time I looked, Henry is the only man. That’s why I’m pleased he’s been reappointed to coach through until the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Putting his impeccable record aside however, Henry haters are still a dime a dozen. Normally thriving down red and black way, these grumps ironically can’t see past the fact that Robbie Deans has also failed at a Rugby World Cup – oh and did I mention the fact he sold out to the enemy? (And yes I can be parochial here, a New Zealand rugby man of Deans’ stature coaching the Wallabies is like Alex Ferguson packing his bags and moving north London way to manage Arsenal).
Yes - the All Blacks without Carter, McCaw, Williams and So’oialo looked shaky at best for the Inveco series last month. And yes - All Black fans may have to be prepared that this current New Zealand team may well have to relinquish the Tri Nations title and Bledisloe Cup in the next couple of months. Especially if the Wallabies live up to expectation and the Boks can ignore the instructions of their mad coach long enough. But that’s life. It’s a sport. You win some and you lose some.
It seems we’ve been so spoilt with our winning rugby team in this country that we’ve become very sore losers when we don’t get our way – and we’re getting an ugly reputation for it. When did we become like this? Spoilt children that throw all their toys out of the cot when our team loses to a better team on the night? Let’s shoot the coach! Honestly, it’s not cool. Chris Rattue et al, are you listening?
I mentioned in my last blog that we’ve got no-one else anyway. If people seriously believe Ian Foster or Colin Cooper could be the answer, then they’re delusional. In fact, I’ll strike out here and now partly blame the current crop of All Blacks’ form on Cooper and Foster’s shoulders. I mean, the Hurricanes had eight All Blacks who just months earlier swept the cream of the Northern Hemisphere teams aside for New Zealand. How did these same players under Cooper manage to look so mediocre? Every time I tuned in to the Super 14 this year the Hurricanes looked shoddy, overweight and lethargic. Their form under Cooper went backwards. How can one group of men look so good under one coach and so apathetic under another?
Henry is a wily old bugger who’s had a dramatic coaching tenure. Under the cosh numerous times he’s proved he can handle the criticism that is routinely piled on him. He’s experienced it from all corners of the earth after all. But no matter how polarising he is and no matter how thick his skin must have had to become to cope with the continual flak, Henry to me always seems - under that dour school teacher persona of his - a person who truly can inspire his players.
A famous Henryism (did he steal it from Madonna I wonder?) is ‘Express yourself’. Often repeated by players in post match interviews it appears to have become a motto which is now part of All Black doctrine. It’s got kind of a new-agey vibe to it but it’s also to the point, inspiring and simple. I think that’s Henry’s coaching style in a nutshell and I’m pleased that we’re sticking with a man who’s shown he’s got a backbone, and a big heart. He knows the glories of success and the horrors of failure. I’ve no doubt that he’s the right man to take us through to 2011– even if there are a few hiccups along the way.
I'm sorry but Billy who? This is priceless.