Sunday 25 September 2016

World Cup-winning former Lions coach reveals hitting 'rock bottom' while in charge of Wales

Published 07/04/2016 | 16:47

WALES, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 29: Wales coach Graham Henry at the Millenium Stadium, Cardiff, Tuesday, venue for the opening match in the opening Rugby World Cup match between Wales and Argentina, Friday. (Photo by Ross Setford/Getty Images)
WALES, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 29: Wales coach Graham Henry at the Millenium Stadium, Cardiff, Tuesday, venue for the opening match in the opening Rugby World Cup match between Wales and Argentina, Friday. (Photo by Ross Setford/Getty Images)

He is now regarded as one of rugby's most successful ever coaches but there was once a perception that Graham Henry couldn't win the biggest games.

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After leading the All Blacks to a hat-trick of Tri Nations titles, New Zealand were heavily favoured to walk the 2007 World Cup but were shockingly dumped out at the quarter-final stage by France in what was the country's worst ever performance in the marquee tournament.

Henry rebounded to lead the All Blacks to glory on home soil in the 2011 competition but in an interesting new video the coach reveals how his failures drove him on to achieve the ultimate success.

Henry was the coach of Wales between 1998-2002 but after posting a ten-game winning streak to start his reign, things deteriorated and he walked away from the job just one game into the 2002 Six Nations - a 54-10 hammering at the hands of Ireland.

Sandwiched between those Welsh years was the 2001 Lions tour of Australia. Henry was the head coach but his dictatorial style is widely regarded as one of the key reasons that the Lions lost the test series 2-1.

Henry is honest about how those failures impacted his life.

"When I left Wales, I had to walk,” he said in the video, which was made by Triumph and Disaster.

"The combination of that and the Lions tour was a huge challenge, a challenge before my time really but you don’t say no to those things. I hit the wall, people call it pressure, I just didn’t want to talk to people, I read books all day, is that a sign? I resigned from Welsh rugby and got out of there before I died there.

“They were very good, the Welsh, outstanding. But it was a difficult thing to do and there is a time when you hit rock bottom and you have to get out.”

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