Given that Graham Henry played 100 per cent more first-class games of cricket than he did rugby, feel free to picture him quietly raising his bat in the corner of the changing sheds should the All Blacks beat Ireland tomorrow.

Victory at Aviva Stadium would bring up Henry's 100th as a head coach, 38 more than the next most successful coach, France's Bernard Laporte.

It is a remarkable record given his late start to coaching international rugby - he began his tenure as Wales coach in 1998 as a 52-year-old - and the fact that his All Black career looked destined for an abrupt and undignified ending after defat to France in Cardiff three years ago.

Asked if there was one victory of the 99 to date that has stood out more than any other, Henry rolled out his tinder-dry humour. "One loss has, I can assure you of that."

You "need a touch of madness" to coach at the highest level. To that you can add ego, a masochistic streak and, importantly, a willingness to adapt.

"You have to change with the times," he said. "If I coached the way I coached when I was a young fella, they [the players] wouldn't put up with it. I was a pretty authoritarian coach when I came through the grades, and even with Auckland and the Blues, probably."

Henry's other great area of expertise was education and he sees an inextricable link between what is happening in schools and what is happening in professional sport.

"We've seen a change from an authoritarian system with set examinations to a consensus education system where the students' ideas are brought into play, which I think is bloody good.

"Sean Fitzpatrick is a different individual, for example, than Richie McCaw," Henry continues, "because he developed in a different time under a different education system with different values."

Henry's time as Wales' Great Redeemer is remembered with fondness, citing victories over England at Wembley and two wins in Paris in consecutive attempts as career highlights. It was also a place where the burden of expectation matched that of New Zealand, even if the resources didn't.

"That's why I had to leave in the finish because I would have died there otherwise. There were about three-and-a-half million Welshmen all in your back pocket.

"It was a special time and special memories, but huge pressure."

Henry's 2001 assignment stint with the Lions started brilliantly, with a Brian O'Driscoll-inspired win at the Gabba, but ended in a 1-2 series loss and reports of dressing-room disharmony, but it was the All Blacks job he always wanted.

When John Mitchell and Robbie Deans failed to win the World Cup in 2003 while alienating their NZRU bosses, Henry was handed his dream job.

To the amazement of many and the eternal bitterness of some, Henry and his assistants Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith were retained after New Zealand's worst performance at a World Cup in 2007.

Henry admits the reaction to that loss rocked him, but he has no quibble with the New Zealand obsession with loss that often overshadows the celebration of victory.

"I haven't got a problem with that. I have got a problem about that one game, but no, that's the nature of this job and one of the reasons the All Blacks are so successful. There's such a huge expectation on them to play well and to win.

"That's a positive rather than a negative."

Henry describes himself as the "big picture man" while a small army of "remarkable individuals", such as Smith, Hansen, Mike Cron and Mick Byrne concentrate on the technical minutiae. Still, it will be Henry's neck first placed under the guillotine, so to speak, should 2011 end as badly as 2007.

That's why he deserves acknowledgement for both his longevity and 77 per cent winning record.

"To be coaching test-match rugby as head coach for 130 tests is something I'm very proud of. It shows I've got a bit of longevity in the game and I haven't been sacked too many times. I guess I've done something right over the years, which is pleasing."

In case he's getting a swollen head, he might also pause to contemplate the fact the 100 he is set to notch up is a mere 97 more than his highest first-class score with the bat.