Wynne Gray 's Opinion

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: El Toro Ted's switch opens door for new Henry clause

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Graham Henry and coach Santiago Phelan look on during an Argentina training session at Hutt Recreation Ground in Lower Hutt. Photo / Getty Images
Graham Henry and coach Santiago Phelan look on during an Argentina training session at Hutt Recreation Ground in Lower Hutt. Photo / Getty Images

If it's fine for El Toro Ted to switch his allegiance then it must be fine for players to do the same.

There is no logic in allowing coaches to ply their trade for several international or provincial sides while restricting players to one nation.

Players must look at coaches' deals with envy and Graham Henry's move should persuade some to tackle this restraint of trade again.

Isa Nacewa was a classic case. He spent a few minutes on the field for Fiji at the 2003 World Cup and that disqualified him from ever representing any other nation.

Now Gaucho Graham has gone from Wales to the All Blacks to Argentina. Nice for some, isn't it? No stand down, no waiting, no period of grace.

Let's take a few examples. If unwanted All Blacks Joe Rokocoko, Andy Ellis and Daniel Braid want to play for Fiji, Scotland or the Wallabies and those countries accept them, how is that different from Henry's career changes.

We've had one Henry clause, now we might get another.

When he slid away in 1998 to coach Wales, there was a hellfire and damnation NZRU reaction that he would never coach the All Blacks.

That ruling was rescinded and eventually, Henry was promoted and then given a second shot at claiming the Webb Ellis Cup.

Henry's latest move has created tension in the All Blacks, especially as he carries eight years of mental dossiers on their work.

Meanwhile, the IRB hasn't allowed players to change allegiances even with a stand-down period of a few years.

Yet El Graucho nips out of his NZRU deal and signs up for the Gauchos.

There were times when Henry scoffed at some like Ti'i Paulo who disappeared overseas without giving the All Blacks a decent shot.

But he felt he was looking after his life, just as Henry is no doubt rationalising his latest switch.

If Henry is comfortable coaching the Pumas, I see no reason to pour huge scorn on him.

His currency is his current CV, and his conscience is his only arbiter.

But players must be given the same choice. If Adam Thomson is surplus to All Black needs this year, he should be able to take a deal in Japan and also represent that country.

It doesn't have to select him but it should have that opportunity. Touche, Ted?

- NZ Herald

Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

NZ Herald senior rugby writer Wynne Gray has been covering the All Blacks for almost 25 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

Read more by Wynne Gray

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