Graham Henry ended his international coaching career yesterday but he will not be lost to the game.

His departing words had similar clarity to those he uttered in 1998 when he announced, "I'm going to coach Wales and I'm going tonight."

Henry addressed a media gathering yesterday at the University Rugby Club in Auckland and told them, "I am stepping down from All Black coach, I have had enough."

His immediate plans revolved around family, friends and fishing as he assesses the next stage of his working life. There will not be a fullstop, his rugby choices were many, open and varied.


When he gets back into business, Henry is keen on mentoring coaches in New Zealand, acting as a consultant, working on his rugby coaching website and dealing with an import-export business in China.

He looked weary, as he should, after the procession of partying which followed the All Blacks' 8-7 victory against France to claim the World Cup. Henry knew it was time to call it quits.

That moment came a week ago when the squad reached Wellington on their nationwide celebrations. Sometime during the evening at an informal meeting in the hotel which lasted several hours, Henry made a "little speech and told them I loved them and was moving on".

"I think most of them had gleaned that before that anyway."

He had endured a rugged last 20 minutes of test coaching in the World Cup, seen his team develop and succeed and it was an appropriate moment to park his coaching satchel.

His preference was for coaching continuity in the All Blacks. Steve Hansen was his personal choice to lead the side forward while he and Wayne Smith moved into other work.

"He [Hansen] will do it well, you can't have more experience than he and that is what it is all about," he said.

His strengths were his strong relationships with the players, his natural feel for the game, his will to win and experience.


There was plenty of coaching talent to assist him.

Henry would be highly analytical watching games from his couch but he would keep quiet and would not voice his opinions through the media. He would not discount working for a club or group overseas.

However, at 65, Henry had got to the stage where he did not want to battle the extensive demands of the All Blacks job any more.

Eight years in the job and assisting Super rugby franchise coaches was enough. He would now be able to relax.

"I have done my bit, I have really enjoyed it but it is time to move on and do other things.

"There is a very fine line between being the hero and villain - I know that line very well, probably more than most - and that puts huge pressure on the people who have no control over that." He thanked everyone from his relatives, the New Zealand Rugby Union staff, the All Blacks and their entourage for their support. He said he was proud of the legacy and culture the team had created.

Henry coached the All Blacks to 88 wins, annual Bledisloe Cup wins since 2003, five Tri-Nations titles, three Grand Slams and now the World Cup.

He had been involved in 140 tests with Wales and the Lions too and that "does take its toll. I didn't particularly enjoy the last 20 minutes of the game against the French in the final of Rugby World Cup".

"But I had made this decision prior to that. It has been a privilege and an enormous part of my life and I have enjoyed it immensely but it is time to move on."

The All Blacks victory against the Wallabies in the World Cup semifinal was a massive performance and as good as any Henry had overseen. They were then fortunate to prevail against France in the final.

He would miss the coaching responsibility and the edge that created.

His job had always been about winning, that had been his expectation and he had no problem with that.