Henry goes back to where it all started for him

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

WELLING­TON: Gra­ham Henry, who coached the All Blacks to vic­tory at the 2011 World Cup on home soil, has re­turned to the side where he first came to promi­nence, hav­ing been ap­pointed to as­sist Auck­land coach Alama Ieremia in New Zealand’s pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship.

Henry coached the pro­vin­cial side from 1992-97 as well as Su­per Rugby’s Auck­land Blues from 1996-98. Af­ter a stint with Wales he re­turned to New Zealand and was ap­pointed to the All Blacks role in 2004, step­ping down af­ter their World Cup tri­umph.

Auck­land have strug­gled in re­cent years and Henry said he was here to help.

“It’s easy to crit­i­cise from the out­side but let’s try and make a dif­fer­ence from the in­side. I’ll be men­tor­ing the coaches ... and the play­ers and hope to make a dif­fer­ence,” he said.

Auck­land are New Zealand’s most suc­cess­ful pro­vin­cial team, hav­ing won 16 ti­tles since the na­tional cham­pi­onship was in­tro­duced in 1976. Henry won four of those ti­tles from 1993-96.

The team, how­ever, have not won the ti­tle since 2007, dur­ing which time arch-ri­vals Can­ter­bury have clinched nine of the 10 cham­pi­onships.

They also flirted with rel­e­ga­tion from the top di­vi­sion for the first time last sea­son, only sur­viv­ing af­ter Waikato lost in the fi­nal round of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

For­mer Samoa coach Ieremia, who was ap­pointed last month, hoped to profit from Henry’s ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Gra­ham ob­vi­ously has a wealth of knowl­edge around the de­fence sys­tems and trends of the game with a track record that speaks for it­self,” Ieremia said. “Ad­di­tion­ally, a key as­pect of Gra­ham’s in­volve­ment is his role as a men­tor not only to the coaches, but most im­por­tantly for the play­ers.”

Fans from around the world will be able to pur­chase tick­ets for the Ja­pan 2019 Rugby World Cup from to­day.

Gen­eral bal­lot ap­pli­ca­tions for Team Packs and Sta­dium Packs – al­low­ing fans to fol­low their favourite team through the group stage or base them­selves in a par­tic­u­lar host city – will go on sale.

Ap­pli­ca­tions will be ac­cepted un­til the mid­dle of Fe­bru­ary.

Tick­ets for the tour­na­ment had pre­vi­ously only been avail­able to a se­lect num­ber of peo­ple who are mem­bers of the “Ja­pan rugby fam­ily” or Ja­panese club team sup­port­ers.

A World Rugby spokesman said there had been strong de­mand for tick­ets in Ja­pan and he ex­pected the same level of ex­cite­ment glob­ally in the ticket packs to be launched on Satur­day.

“Ex­cite­ment across Ja­pan is build­ing,” the spokesman said. “On Fri­day, the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee launched the of­fi­cial mas­cot and we are see­ing a great deal of host city en­gage­ment, which points to a tour­na­ment that will de­liver an ex­cep­tional ex­pe­ri­ence for trav­el­ling fans.”

Ja­pan 2019 rep­re­sents the first time the Rugby World Cup will be held in Asia and also the first time it will be hosted by a coun­try out­side the tra­di­tional heart­lands of the sport.

The tour­na­ment will be held from Septem­ber 20 to Novem­ber 2, 2019.

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