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Henry admits he wasn't ready for 2001 tour

Teamtalk logo Teamtalk 6/05/2017

© Provided by Teamtalk Former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry has revealed that he felt under-prepared for leading the British and Irish Lions in 2001.

Henry had been a success after joining Wales, leading the side to 11 wins in a row in 1999 and nicknamed in the media as "the great redeemer", before being offered the role to coach the Lions tour of Australia, becoming the first foreign coach to do so from outside the British Isles.

Looking back 16 years later, Henry admitted that the big appointment came too early for him.

"I wasn't ready for that tour," sighs Henry.

"I got picked as selector and coach and you feel really privileged to do that. But I just wasn't ready and I learnt a lot from that.

"It was a great series, seven tries each, Australia were playing through world champions, and it was a great contest. But we could have done it better if I'd been better as a coach. That's a disappointment but that's life, and you learn from these things."

Elaborating why he felt coaching the Lions came too soon in his career, Henry acknowledged that coaching both Wales and the Lions at the same time had been more of a challenge than he expected.

A lack of familiarity with the other coaches on the tour - "Andy Robinson, Phil Larder, Steve Black - was another shortcoming.

"I didn't know any of the other coaches at all," Henry added.

"A few of the Welsh boys in the team I knew because I'd been coaching them. I was coaching the Welsh and Lions at the same time.

"The Welsh union tried to talk me out of it, they said 'this is too difficult', and I was too arrogant to listen. I just thought I could handle it.

"Now when Warren is coach they replace him and he has a year's leave of absence from Welsh rugby. That's something we've learned from... as you go through those experiences you're always learning."

The Lions won the first Test 29-13 in Brisbane, before falling to 35-14 and 29-23 defeats in Melbourne and Sydney to lose the series 2-1.

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