Legendary Kiwi trainer Sir Graham Henry declared New Zealand “damned” by failing to appoint Wallabies trainer Dave Rennie to head the All Blacks.
Henry, a New Zealander who led his homeland to the glory of the Rugby World Cup in 2011, was part of the five-person New Zealand rugby selection panel that Ian Foster named as All Blacks coach last year.
Now he’s sensationally admitted that I missed Rennie, who he believes will help Australia get up there at the next World Cup.
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Sir Henry, a special guest at the Wairarapa Bush Rugby Sports Awards, was asked if Foster was ready for the job.
“It’s too early to say, isn’t it?” He replied.
“As if the All Blacks had lost, hadn’t played in six weeks, the Wallabies, their super rugby was much later than ours.
“Dave Rennie is without a doubt a great coach. New Zealand rugby spiced that up. You should have linked up with Dave and (Japan’s coach) Jamie Joseph and other people around the world to get them involved in New Zealand rugby.
“(But they) haven’t contacted Dave Rennie in three years and Dave Rennie is fab so he’s going to do a great job with Australia. If they have the staff to be up there for the World Cup, I think they probably will with Dave Rennie.
“The All Blacks haven’t played in a long time and they looked like that. They were off the pace but I think they will eat a bit at Eden Park and I think they will do the job. And I hope for ‘Fozzies’ sake that happens – awkward with the virus and unable to play and all those little things. But I avoided the question. ”
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But he didn’t avoid the question for long. When Henry was asked to choose between the coaches of the two teams, he chose Rennie.
“Come on, yeah,” Henry quipped.
“I talked about it in the media before and was asked who should coach the All Blacks, and I talked very loudly about Rennie.
“But Dave Rennie went to Glasgow (2017) and trained there after winning two super titles with the Chiefs.
“I think he has it all and no disrespect to Fozzie, no disrespect, and New Zealand rugby – this was some time ago, not recently – should keep in touch with players and coaches who have had a huge impact on the professional rugby country and went overseas and they didn’t do that. If they’d done that to Dave Rennie, he would have applied for the All Blacks job.
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“I think we stuffed openly because he’s a good person and a good coach, and you saw it right away with the Wallabies. You’re going to play for him, and that’s not a disregard for Fozzie, that’s just a circumstance so I answered the question. ”
His response will put pressure on Foster, who avoided an embarrassing start to his tenure as All Blacks as the hosts narrowly escaped a first home defeat to the Wallabies since 2001.
Sir Graham Henry claimed the Aussies were “quite unlucky last week” but was pleased with a close result and called the resurgence of a tight Bledisloe competition “great for the game”.
But of course he couldn’t resist a cheeky excavation of the wallabies and said: “They haven’t been there for years.”
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