Graham Henry has called time on his career as coach of New Zealand ending an eight year spell that saw the 65 year old win 88 matches out of a possible 103 and finally culminating in the World Cup triumph on home soil last month.
Whilst it was a nervy end to a fantastic tournament, with New Zealand edging France by eight points to seven, Henry says that overall the whole eight years had been a privilege.
“It’s been an enormous privilege to coach the All Blacks and I am exceptionally proud of how the team has added to the All Blacks legacy over the last eight years, involving 103 Test matches, I am also exceptionally proud of how they have developed an extremely professional and enjoyable culture and environment, and how they have reached out to people of all ages and put a smile on their faces, both here in New Zealand and overseas.”
Henry also paid tribute to all those who wore the All Blacks shirt and his two captains during his time in charge.
“I’d just like to say thanks to the guys who have played over those eight years, those 103 Tests, especially thanks to Tana Umaga and Richie McCaw who were the long-term captains over that time.”
Henry also took charge of the British Lions in 2001 where a side led by Martin Johnson lost the series 2-1 in Australia and insists he would now like to take charge of a side in Europe.
“I would like to spend a little bit of time, not a long time because I have important family over here (in New Zealand), but a little bit of time assisting if there is a demand from a club or from a union in Europe over the next few years. “If you are going to get involved in a club in Europe you can only do one club, that’s important, and I haven’t got a lot of time due to things in have to do in New Zealand.”
The former New Zealand coach addded:
“It would be stimulating and challenging but we will see what happens.”
With regards to Martin Johnson’s current position within the England set up, Henry believes the World Cup winner should be re-appointed.
“I know Martin reasonably well as he was captain of the Lions in 2001 and he was a fabulous leader. I’d imagine he’s still the same character, people don’t change. Often we shoot our coaches because they haven’t got the results but they remain the best people for the job. If Martin is the best person for the job he should be re-appointed.”
Martin Johnson’s current contract runs out in December and there are currently talks ongoing with regards to England’s latest World Cup campaign and whether Johnson is the right man to take the side forward.