Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Henry praises his "self-reliant men"

There were plenty of nervous moments when the All Blacks were holding on against a fired up French team, but their 8-7 win came from growth and the ability to get the job done according to their proud coach.

The All Blacks not only end the year as the World Champions, but as the International Rugby Board’s number one ranked team – a position they will as of next month have held for an incredible 24 straight months.

"This team has been ranked number one in the world for a long time and it was just great that they were able to hang in there and do the business under real pressure," Henry said.

The Final did not proceed to expectations, with France making a mockery of some media claims that they were the worst team to ever grace a World Cup decider.

Les Bleus were heroic, and while the All Blacks had fought with every inch of their being to fashion a 8-0 lead after 46 minutes, France hit back via man-of-the-match Thierry Dusautoir to score and give New Zealand a very nervous last half an hour.

Henry said the fact that the All Blacks were able to counter a situation they weren’t prepared for was a positive sign.

“We had to play a situation that was unexpected and the French played really well and held on to the ball,” Henry said.

“The ability to hang in there and get the job done was probably something we couldn't have done two or three years ago.”

Henry said that there was a huge amount of strength in his team, far more so than in 2007, and a large part of this was that many of the team were still intact.

"We are a much stronger side now than we were in 2007. The players are older, more self-reliant and they run this team, Richie and the senior players run this team," he said.

"They've each taken ownership and they've been superb at it. They're also learning and they've learned from this World Cup. That's the beauty of continuity, that people continue to be involved rather than wholesale cleanouts and start all over again, how do you learn from that?”

"Those situations are difficult but they are things you can learn from."

McCaw said the lack of panic and the quality of the “men” was crucial.

"It says a lot about the men we have in the team,” he said.

“It wasn't the prettiest performance, but we had to have courage and the desire to win. Today was about hanging in there. I take my hat off to all the men.

"The big thing was not to panic, though we seemed to do that at the kick-off.

"It is about preparing for situations like that and we prepared for those situations this week. It is how you react. If you are a leader or captain, you have to keep the belief and captain. The last thing we wanted to do was panic and we managed to hang in."

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