Why should anyone object? Crikey, it says “coach” in the occupation section of his passport—what did you think he was going to to do once he stepped down from this country’s stop coaching spot: take up knitting?
How long did you really think retirement would hold Henry’s interest? With two coaching contracts already under his belt—one with the light-blue and whites helping them build, and the other team wearing darker-blue and white with a team sure to test the senior coach’s well-documented tendency to depression—you’ve had your answer now: not long.
Why be surprised? This is what he does. This is his job. He coaches. So the only complaint about his coaching a team opposing the All Blacks can be based on nationalism. And nationalism, as they say, is the last refuge of the scoundrel. So forget this bollocks about him “selling his soul” or selling out the country. That’s all it is: just bollocks.
The best thing you can do if you support the All Blacks is to wish your old coach well, while hoping he doesn’t do too well.
That said, why would he or anyone else be surprised to hear after Saturday nights game in Wellington he wouldn’t be welcome back in the All Blacks’ rooms. You’d have to be a loony to let him in to gain any knowledge about what ails players, or how things are set up these days.
As it happens, there was a parallel in the AFL only last week. Sydney Swans legend Brett Kirk, currently a comments man with Channel 7, was banned from Sydney’s dressing room at last week’s game against Geelong because news had emerged he’d signed to help coach Fremantle next year—a team the Swans could have easily met in the finals series if games had gone that way.
Why give someone with changed loyalties access to anything that might help them, was the call—and the right one.
And now, having got that off my chest with a paragraph joining Geelong and Fremantle in the same sentence, I have to announce that I am going into mourning—and it’s got nothing at all to do with Graham Henry.
In fact, I was distracted from Saturday night’s rugby test by a much, much bigger game going on in Melbourne—an elimination final played between Fremantle and Geelong in which my team—the Geelong Cats—the 2011 premiers—winners of three of the last five AFL premierships--the greatest club of the modern era—were blown off the park by a Fremantle team who
have had only won one final before in their club’s life. So that’s my team. Smashed. Out. Eliminated. Humiliated.
So be gentle on me. I’m in mourning.