Graham Henry: Continued All Blacks world domination boring for rugby

Former All Blacks coach Graham Henry has welcomed improvements from their rivals.
NICOLE JOHNSTONE/STUFF

Former All Blacks coach Graham Henry has welcomed improvements from their rivals.

Former All Blacks coach Graham Henry believes the side's continued domination would be "boring" for the game.

Speaking to media in Dubai on Thursday where he was a guest at the Emirates Airline Rugby Long Lunch, Henry welcomed signs of improvement from Australia and South Africa over the closing stages of the Rugby Championship, saying it's exactly what the game needed.

"I haven't coached in six years," he said. "And the game's changed immensely in that six years. What the All Blacks have done is been initiators in that change, they're inventive."

Graham Henry, right, won the 2011 Rugby World Cup with Richie McCaw.
JOHN SELKIRK/STUFF

Graham Henry, right, won the 2011 Rugby World Cup with Richie McCaw.

"They didn't score a try from their own ball initially against South Africa," Henry continued. "Two turnovers and an intercept, whereas South Africa had to build their tries."

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"Their ability to take advantage of opportunities is probably their X factor. And once they see the opportunity, they execute it," Henry said of the All Blacks.

"That's probably the step other sides haven't made yet. South Africa may have played the better game, but got beat by a point. So I don't think the gap is too big. Which is great, it's what rugby needs. It doesn't need one team that's unbeatable, because that's boring."

The All Blacks went through the Rugby Championship unbeaten after a drawn test series against the British and Irish Lions.

Despite the continued Rugby Championship domination, and the fact the All Blacks have had a stranglehold on the world No 1 ranking, Henry, who coached the side to win the World Cup in 2011 before his former assistant Steve Hansen made it back-to-back titles in 2015, believes they will face stiff competition to make it three in a row in Japan in 2019.

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"The World Cup is two years away and I was pleased to see Australia and South Africa improve a little in this Rugby Championship series because I think rugby needs competition," Henry added.

"It was pleasing because Australia and South Africa have fallen away pretty poorly in recent times. Against those two teams in the last two games against the All Blacks, they've been great contests with superb rugby. That's really pleasing.

"It's obvious the culture of the South Africa and Australian teams are becoming stronger and I think that's good for rugby.

"There's no point having one team much better than everybody else because that doesn't create interest. When you're not coaching you want a competition and when you're coaching, you don't.

"So going into the next World Cup, for sure I think teams can stop them. England are on a bit of a roll and have lost just one game since Eddie [Jones] took charge.

"The All Blacks will be favourites I would imagine in 2019, along with England, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, the usual enemies will all be out there."

 - Stuff

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