Reappointed All Blacks coach Graham Henry has admitted that his controversial reconditioning programme was a mistake.
Asked about the withdrawal of senior players from the Super 14 to ensure they were at peak fitness for the World Cup, he said: "In hindsight it was a mistake. Perhaps we need to sit down again and find the appropriate time (for players to rest)".
"I think - we called it the conditioning window - it's important we discuss that particular period of the game and what is most appropriate for New Zealand's future," Henry said.
- Graham Henry has been reappointed for two years
- He said he was excited and hungry for the job
- He did not want to dwell on the World Cup but reconditioning was a mistake
- NZRU voted 7-1 in his favour and said he was the best man for the job
- Robbie Deans said he would concentrate on the Super14
- Stu Wilson said Deans should have got it
- Bull Allen said NZ rugby had matured
He said it was important that All Black management work in with high performance coaching staff, Rebel Sport Super 14 and the NPC when they choose the "conditioning window" time.
"We talked about referees and the transparency of what we are doing in the game so the coaches, players and referees are on the same wave length and how we can try and further that going into the future," he said.
However, there was no contrition about the rotation policy, which he says will continue, and no acceptance that the All Blacks played the wrong style of play to win rugby's greatest prize.
"We are ... very sorry that we couldn't bring that cup home to New Zealand," Henry uttered early in today's press conference.
He acknowledged that some people had expressed concern that some players did not have enough games heading into the World Cup but Henry disagreed.
"Most of those players were playing 17 or 18 games during that season, there were one or two who didn't like Ali Williams with a broken jaw, but in my experience that number of games is sufficient to play top rugby," Henry said.
The All Blacks' expansive playing style came in for question after the World Cup failure, particularly as champions South Africa and runners-up England both employed a game plan based on field position and forward domination.
Henry insisted he wouldn't steer his team down a more conservative path.
"I think our rugby players are skilful, they're explosive, they enjoy playing an attacking style of rugby," he said.
"I don't think they'd enjoy playing a big set piece kicking game.
"I don't think we'd get the same results by doing that," he said.
"But I would hope that we continue to try to push out the boundaries of how the game is played, which will be exciting and stimulating for the players," Henry said.
It has been revealed only one New Zealand Rugby Union board member was against the decision to reinstate Henry.
He was reappointed for two more years today with the NZRU board voting 7-1 in his favour.
Henry said he was "excited at the opportunity to continue".
He said: "I would just like to thank the New Zealand public, their support has been overwhelming frankly."
Henry spoke briefly about the World Cup but did say the loss to France had come from the All Blacks playing badly and France playing well.
"We didn't play as well as we hoped to play and we didn't get the bounce of the ball. To elaborate further would be a negative and would not be good for New Zealand or New Zealand rugby," Henry said.
He said he had the hunger to carry on and the support of the people that count.
"It's a relief that this group of people who I have got a huge amount of respect for and who I've gotten close to, have given me the opportunity," Henry said.
Henry has been appointed for a two-year term, even after his controversial player rotation tactics culminated in a quarterfinal loss to France at the rugby World Cup.
It was New Zealand's worst-ever World Cup result since the tournament began in 1987 and no other All Blacks coach has held the job the year after a losing World Cup campaign.
Ex-All Black Stu Wilson reacted by saying: "I personally believed Robbie Deans needed his chance."
Henry said he was grateful to get another chance.
"We have learnt lessons from this campaign and we now look forward to being able to build on those learnings and the experience we have."
The new appointment was made after Henry, Crusaders coach Deans, Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper and Chiefs coach Ian Foster were interviewed by the NZRU board.
Chairman Jock Hobbs stepped aside as he is Deans' brother-in-law.
Henry's main competition was from Deans, who in seven years coaching the Crusaders has won four Super rugby titles.
Deans was the bookies favourites but is now widely tipped to be offered the Wallabies coaching job, vacated by John Connolly after the World Cup.
Deans was philosophical about missing out.
He told Newstalk ZB: "It was not my preference but that is the way it is, you know. You just have to push on and deal with it."
He said talk of him taking the Wallabies job was just conjecture and he would deal with it if it became a reality.
A quick-witted Deans supporter has already put the Crusaders coach up for sale on auction site
The blurb describes Deans as being "a great coach for any national side except New Zealand".
Henry, 61, coached the All Blacks to 42 wins and six losses after being appointed four years ago.
In a statement, NZRU acting chairman Mike Eagle said that the appointment followed a thorough process, which reflected the importance of the position to New Zealand rugby.
"At the end of the process, the board concluded that Graham Henry was the best candidate for the position," he said.
"We are all disappointed not to have won the Rugby World Cup. In that regard, the NZRU Board accepts it was jointly responsible and accountable for the result and the planning that went into the campaign.
"We are committed to learning the key lessons, which will be explored in the independent review announced earlier this week, led by Mike Heron and high performance expert Don Tricker."
Eagle said the appointment decision was based on Henry's remarkable results over a four-year tenure.
"Graham's record, both on and off the field, is among the best in All Blacks rugby history.
"He has set a very high standard in coaching, player management, and integration with the wider New Zealand rugby community.
"He has given a lot in a successful period for our game and the Board is convinced he has more to give the All Blacks and New Zealand rugby.
"As a result, we believe that in the best interests of New Zealand rugby, Graham and his team were the right choice."
Eagle said that since Henry was coach, the All Blacks had defended the Bledisloe Cup four times, won the Tri-Nations three times, achieved a clean-sweep of the British and Irish Lions and a Grand Slam in 2005.
Henry's teams were unbeaten at home and, until the quarter-final loss in Cardiff, unbeaten in Europe in four seasons.
International experience: All Blacks coach 2004-07 (42 wins, six losses). Wales coach 1998-2002 (22 wins, one draw, 13 losses). Lions coach on tour to
Australia 2001 (1-2 series loss).
Super 14: Blues 1996-98 (two titles, once runner-up). Blues technical adviser 2003 (one title).
NPC: Auckland 1992-98 (four
As a player: Senior club player in Dunedin, Christchurch and Auckland.
- NZPA, NZ HERALD STAFF