Graham Henry.
Graham Henry. NZ Herald - Christine Cornege

RWC loss would have stoned Henry

FOR Graham Henry, winning the World Cup was the ultimate high. But had the All Blacks lost the final to France, he had a different high in mind.

"I would have been in the south of France smoking marijuana and drinking red wine,'' he said. "I would still have the same woman ... nobody else would have me."

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Henry was speaking at last night's Hawke's Bay RFU fundraising dinner in Napier, where he also revealed how he managed to entice the hero from that final, Steven Donald, off the "whitebaiting circuit'' to solve the All Blacks' crisis at first-five.

"I asked Beaver how much whitebait he had. When he replied 2kg I said, `son, that's enough to get you in the All Blacks'. That penalty goal of his is one of the quickest I've seen and, although he was out of the line every time defensively, he became a cult hero."

Henry argued the presence of Dan Carter would have turned the 8-7 thriller into a romp, but that manner of victory would have been less sweet. It would've been less stressful, too.

"It was hard for me but Richie [McCaw] later told me it was the best 20 minutes of his life."

It wasn't just hard for Henry. The coach said he had spoken to many people who couldn't bear to watch the climax at Eden Park, including his assistant Wayne Smith who had his back to the game in the coach's box.

"I was sending the message out for them to kick for the corners,'' Henry said. "They kept taking the French on around the fringes - coaches have a huge influence."

The coach explained how motivating his troops for the semifinal defeat of Australia was easier than the final, thanks to the presence of one particular member of the opposition.

"That little prick [Quade] Cooper helped us."

The build-up to that win over the old foe was less than ideal, with Israel Dagg and Cory Jane breaking a team curfew, but Henry said veterans McCaw, Carter, Andrew Hore and Mils Muliaina dealt well with that incident.

"They had to go and front the leaders. They were s***ing themselves. They had to apologise to the team ... it had nothing to do with me, the players disciplined themselves.

"They both played the games of their lives against Australia ... they wanted to repay the guys and they responded."

If they hadn't, at least Henry had a plan to help ease the pain.



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