It's been a long time coming, says Henry

(Rugby News Service) Sunday 23 October 2011
It's been a long time coming, says Henry
Coach Graham Henry celebrates New Zealand's victory over France

AUCKLAND, 23 Oct. - New Zealand coach Graham Henry lavished praise on the dogged performance of the All Blacks in Sunday's 8-7 Rugby World Cup victory over France - and admitted there were some tense moments in the coaches' box.

"It has been bloody outstanding," Henry said. "Richie and the boys just hanging in there right through the 80 minutes to win this thing.

"I'm just delighted for the boys. We've been the top team in the world for a long time, so it's been a long time coming.

"There was a wee bit of turmoil up there (in the coaches' box) but you just have to reflect over the seven weeks and what these people have done right throughout the country."

Henry said the players he called on when the team were hit by injury had done an outstanding job, and singled out fly half Stephen Donald for special praise.

'He's composed'

"Donald came on and played bloody well. He kicked what turned out to be the winning goal and gave us field position when we needed it."

Asked if he felt nervous when Donald came on, Henry said: "I was nervous the whole game, not just about Stephen Donald, I knew he could handle it." 

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw echoed Henry's praise of Donald, the fourth fly half New Zealand used during the tournament. Said McCaw: "Geez, he's composed so I take my hat off to the guy - but it's hard to single out one guy, everyone dug deep.

"When we had problems the next guy stood up and the next guy stood up, and I take my hat off to the guy (Donald) but it's not about one guy, everybody played as well as they can."

Added Brad Thorn, the oldest player to ever contest a Final: "Stephen Donald has gotten so much flak over the years, New Zealand should be proud of him."

RNS gs/sw