'It's embarrassing': Graham Henry wades into the All Blacks crisis
Former All Blacks boss Graham Henry had waded into the crisis that has engulfed Ian Foster’s struggling side, writing a 457-word column in Saturday’s edition of the New Zealand Herald that has called on the country to recreate the “team of five million” vibe that helped them win World Cups in 2011 and 2015.
Henry was at the helm for that 2011 triumph on home soil and while he seldom puts his head above the parapet these days, he has nailed his colours firmly to the mast ahead of the must-win round two Rugby Championship All Blacks match versus the Springboks in Johannesburg.
The All Blacks were defeated 26-10 last weekend in Mbombela, their fifth defeat in six matches, and enormous pressure has now built up around head coach Foster and his team ahead of this Saturday’s rematch.
In an effort to pierce the widespread negativity surrounding the All Blacks, Henry has called on fans to stop whingeing and moaning and to instead row in behind the team in their hour of need in South Africa. “When Kiwis stand together, we achieve amazing things,” he suggested.
“The players, the captain Sam Cane and their coach Ian Foster have been subjected to unfair, unkind vitriol. These guys are giving their all. The distasteful, mean-spirited tone of the criticism coming from our own people and aimed at our team has made me wonder: Whatever happened to the team of five million?
“Whingeing and moaning? That’s not the Kiwi way – it’s embarrassing, and it’s not how we want the rest of the world to see us. The young men who will represent us need to know that we stand with them.”
Why? Because Henry had labelled the current Springboks team under Jacques Nienaber as the best he has ever seen from South Africa. “These All Blacks face a Bok blitzkrieg like none that has come before: This is the best Springbok team I have ever seen – and I was there at Lancaster Park in 1956, so I’ve seen a few!
“Right now, the All Blacks are rebuilding while the Boks are at their best. The brilliant Siya Kolisi leads a very mature side – they are worthy world champions who play with focused intensity and the ability to reset the game to suit their strengths and negate those of their opponents.
“Nevertheless, the All Blacks can win. But to do so, they need to know we stand with them. True sports fans stand with their side in fair weather and foul. For more than a century, All Blacks fans have been lucky to experience more sunshine than gloom. But dark days are here right now. And in challenging times you must stand together if you’re going to stand tall.”
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