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Henry bows out for Kiwis

WORLD Cup-winning coach Graham Henry has officially stepped down from his role in charge of the All Blacks but looks set to move into a background position with the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU).

The veteran coach has admitted he would be interested in working with the English Rugby Football Union but is also in talks with the NZRU over staying on as a "coach mentor".

Henry finishes with an All Blacks record of 88 wins in 103 Tests.

"It's been an enormous privilege to coach the All Blacks and I am exceptionally proud of how the team has added to the All Blacks legacy over the last eight years, involving 103 Test matches," Henry said.

"I am also exceptionally proud of how they have developed an extremely professional and enjoyable culture and environment, and how they have reached out to people of all ages and put a smile on their faces, both here in New Zealand and overseas.


"So I want to say a special thank you and congratulations to all the players who have played during this time, especially to Tana Umaga and Richie McCaw, the two long-term captains."

Henry also hailed his support staff.

"Wayne Smith, Steve Hansen, Mike Cron and Mick Byrne are quality men and all outstanding in their individual coaching roles."

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew paid tribute to Henry.

"He leaves the All Blacks job as one of the greatest coaches in the game," he said.

"His record is unsurpassed and while he will now get time to spend with family and friends, and the odd bit of fishing, we are delighted that Graham is still going to be involved in New Zealand rugby."

Tew revealed: "He has a great relationship with the country's professional coaches, as well as other coaches, and he still has so much to offer the game and it's fantastic that up-and-coming New Zealand coaches will benefit from his vast knowledge."