For­mer NZ coach Henry says O’Driscoll fall­out helped gal­vanise All Blacks

New Straits Times - - Sport -

FOR­MER New Zealand coach Gra­ham Henry has weighed in on the on­go­ing de­bate over the crip­pling tackle on Brian O’Driscoll in the 2005 Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions tour, say­ing it “helped gal­vanise” the All Blacks.

The dan­ger­ous dump­ing in the open­ing minute of the first Test dis­lo­cated O’Driscoll’s shoul­der rul­ing the Lions skip­per out of the re­main­der of the se­ries which the All Blacks went on to sweep 30.

The in­ci­dent has been vo­cif­er­ously de­bated ever since with an an­gry O’Driscoll, un­able to take any fur­ther part in the se­ries, de­scrib­ing it as “de­lib­er­ate foul play, dan­ger­ous, a cheap shot.”

With the Lions due to re­turn to New Zealand next month, the tackle – in which All Blacks cap­tain Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu com­bined to take O’Driscoll out of play – is again be­ing raked over.

Mealamu this week ex­pressed his re­gret but stopped short of apol­o­gis­ing when he said he “thought it was a typ­i­cal rugby move­ment till I re­alised Tana was on the side and we had tipped him up.”

Henry told Fair­fax Me­dia yes­ter­day the tip tackle was “to­tally ac­ci­den­tal, one of those things” that hap­pen in a game.

“Ev­ery­body was sad about (what hap­pened) but those things are out­side of your con­trol. You’ve just got to move on and con­cen­trate on the next game.

“The guys had re­spect for Brian and they didn’t want that to hap­pen. I think they han­dled it pretty well.”

Henry, the only man to have coached both the Lions (2001 in Aus­tralia) and New Zealand (2004-11), was in his se­cond year at the helm of the All Blacks and was still mould­ing a side re­build­ing af­ter be­ing knocked out in the semi-fi­nals of the 2003 World Cup.

As the tackle on O’Driscoll be­came a fo­cal point of the 2005 tour, Henry said that it pos­si­bly worked to the All Blacks ad­van­tage as they con­cen­trated on the games ahead.

“Cer­tainly there was a huge amount of in­ter­est in the O’Driscoll in­jury and what hap­pened around that,” he said.

“There was so much neg­a­tive busi­ness go­ing on from the Bri­tish me­dia it prob­a­bly gal­vanised us ... or helped us to gal­vanise any­way.” Reuters


The Lions are due to tour New Zealand next month.

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