Graham Henry eyes club job

2011-11-22 22:20
Graham Henry (File)

London - Graham Henry is set to turn his back on international rugby after declaring his interest in becoming an adviser for a leading European club if he returns to the sport after a season out.

Almost a month to the day since he guided New Zealand to the Rugby World Cup title on home soil, Henry again dismissed speculation linking him with the vacant England job by saying he has had enough of top-level coaching.

The 65-year-old New Zealander is instead keen to sample the passion and intensity of the Heineken Cup, Europe's top club competition, but in a consultancy role rather than in any coaching set-up.

"I have no desire to coach a team," said Henry, who said his chances of being involved in Test rugby this time next year were "zero out of 10."

"I've done 140 Tests and that is probably enough. But you never say never. My desire is to live in New Zealand predominantly. If there's somebody who wants me in this part of the world (Europe) as an adviser, a Heineken Cup team, I would be interested at looking at that."

Henry, who is contracted to the New Zealand union to the end of March, said he has had no concrete offers from any clubs but has "had a chat to a couple of people," without giving any more details.

"I like what I see in that competition," Henry said about the Heineken Cup. "There's a lot of passion and some interesting places to go to. That would create a bit of interest.

"But I would say that isn't for this particular season. If that were to arise, it would be next year."

After coaching spells in Super Rugby with the Auckland Blues and then internationally with Wales and the British and Irish Lions, Henry took charge of New Zealand after the 2003 World Cup.

With Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith as his assistants, Henry led the All Blacks to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 2007 before a shock loss to France, but was retained for another four years.

He gained revenge on the French in the 2011 tournament by guiding his team to an 8-7 victory in the final to end New Zealand's 24-year wait for a world title.

After stepping down as All Blacks coach, Henry sees Hansen - the forwards coach - as his successor.

"Continuity is important and he is a great coach. For these two reasons, he should get the job," said Henry, who will be a guest coach for the Barbarians in the invitational team's non-cap international against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.

All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu, who is a member of the Barbarians squad, joined Henry in backing Hansen for the job.

"It will be the most sensible pick to stick with him," Mealamu said.

Henry's latest rebuff to England came on the same day another target, Nick Mallett, said he wouldn't be taking any coaching roles before June 2012.

The English-born South African, whose contract with Italy wasn't renewed after the World Cup, turned down an approach from England's Rugby Football Union because he does not want to report to director Rob Andrew, instead preferring to be answerable to a management board.

That leaves Jim Mallinder, the highly rated coach of English club side Northampton Saints, as the leading candidate to replace Martin Johnson, who quit as England coach last week in the wake of the team's disappointing World Cup campaign.

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