Richard Loe 's Opinion

Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Loe: Henry a waste in director role

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It would be better to use Graham Henry with coaches who need the help.
Photo / Ron Burgin
It would be better to use Graham Henry with coaches who need the help. Photo / Ron Burgin

I would be keen to use Graham Henry in the future - but not as some sort of "director of rugby" where he would oversee the new All Black coach and new selection panel.

Better instead to use him with coaches who need the help - like Pat Lam and Mark Hammett. Henry and Lam are already close and he has ties with the Blues from previous years. Hammett's problems with the Hurricanes made headlines this year and, with only Victor Vito, Cory Jane and Conrad Smith left from their star-studded line-up, he clearly needs help.

Steve Hansen is the obvious choice as the next All Black coach but his pick of running mates is vital. I don't think it's all that smart having Henry overlooking the trio that many feel is weak - Hansen, former Chiefs coach Ian Foster and All Black kicking coach Mick Byrne. Surely it's better to have a strong panel in its own right.

As for Byrne, how come he is eligible and people like John Kirwan aren't? Okay, Kirwan hasn't coached in New Zealand for two out of the last five years but Byrne isn't even a head coach - he's an assistant; a kicking coach.

I know who I'd rather have on my panel.

Hansen also needs to stand on his own two feet. Whatever happens, after this World Cup victory he will need to take the All Blacks on to further glory - or there will be big questions. Even with the likes of Brad Thorn and Mils Muliaina gone, the All Blacks still have a solid front row, good locks, a fine loose trio and a good backline.

As for the World Cup, what a success it has been. You can think back to the beginning and there just hasn't been any negativity or complaints about anything - including facilities and hospitality. It's been really good; so good that I would not be surprised if the World Cup was back here within the next 24 years. I may just get to see another one here in my lifetime.

My feeling when the All Blacks won was relief - and not just for the All Blacks. The weight was lifted not just off their shoulders but off the New Zealand rugby public. They have been great the way they supported this team and this campaign and the atmosphere at that final was just brilliant. Any team in the world would have responded to support like that - and the All Blacks did. I thought the French played better than they have for two years and the All Blacks as bad as any time in the past 24 months - maybe even including Brisbane this year. But they stood together when it mattered.

The French did their homework on the All Blacks - Tony Marsh (the former Counties and France back) told me that their plan was to set a ruck at the All Blacks' fourth defender out, to get quick ball there and pressure the All Blacks on the outside. Once you know that, you can see it in the way the game unfolded.

However, I'd make some changes for the next World Cup - I'd ditch the play-off for third and institute a Plate Final to be played from those who finished third in each pool. That would have seen Tonga, Scotland, Italy and Samoa face off and I'd bet that's way more interesting for rugby folk than third place. It also gives the likes of Samoa and Tonga another outing, which they deserved. It would mean only one additional game to the overall programme, with the semifinal of the Plate played on one Friday and the final the following Friday, the same weekend as the overall final.

I would also change the financial model that the IRB operates for the World Cup. The IRB should not be able to demand money so it can play Father Christmas while the host union loses money. It's daft. Fair enough, the IRB has to earn money from the Cup - but surely not at the cost of the host.

I'd love an audit to be done on IRB expenditure during the World Cup. It looked like luxury all the while for all the IRB bigwigs, with full-on expenses. There was that story about the IRB bigwigs insisting on being ferried about in Land Rovers that had no more than 3000km on the clock. The story goes that one had 3600km up - so it was returned. Says a lot in terms of the expectation of luxury, and the IRB's thin grasp of what makes rugby tick.

- Herald on Sunday

Richard Loe

Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Wyllie Loe was a renowned All Black forward prop who plied his trade for the New Zealand national team between 1987 and 1995. Loe was well known by fans and team mates alike as an ‘enforcer’ on the pitch, a player who balanced his abilities with the ball with a tough-tackling prowess and a penchant for physicality. During an outstanding career Richard Loe represented his country of birth in no less than three World Cups, assisting the All Blacks to a famous victory in 1987. Along with fellow team mate and captain Sean Fitzpatrick, Loe formed one of the most formidable forward lines ever to lead the All Blacks. Despite his sometimes overly physical dominance on the pitch, Loe is regarded by former team mates as being an exceptional character and professional. Following retirement from rugby Loe became a sport columnist for the New Zealand Herald, a position he still holds today.

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