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Dublin: 2 °C Friday 18 April, 2014

John Kirwan brings in Graham Henry as Auckland Blues defence coach

Perhaps now the acerbic Kiwi will be given back his life-time parking space at Eden Park.

Graham Henry will look after the Blues' defence.
Graham Henry will look after the Blues' defence.
Image: Tony Marshall/EMPICS Sport

GRAHAM HENRY WILL soon be back to doing what he does best – serving up dry humour like nobody’s business to a devoted Kiwi press corps.

The World Cup-winning coach has signed on for John Kirwan’s Auckland Blues revolution and will act as both an advisor and a defence coach for the Super Rugby franchise next season.

Henry, who stepped down from his All Blacks post in 2011, worked in an advisory role with the Argentinean Rugby Union earlier this year and told One News (New Zealand), last month, that he was enjoying semi-retirement on Waiheke Island.

However, the lure on coaching a competitive rugby team has proved too much and the former school teacher will be soon seen patrolling training pitches and scowling over the on-field action in the Eden Park coaching suites.

He joins Mick Byrne and Grant Doorey, as well as Kirwan, as the new coaching team that will look to revive the fortunes of the flagging Blues.

Only way is mostly up

The Blues finished in 12th place at the end of last season’s Super Rugby campaign.

They one only four games all season and coach Pat Lam was relieved of his post amidst a swirl of accusations about stale tactics and under-performing stars, such as Piri Weepu and Ali Williams.

Kirwan, a World Cup winner as a player in 1987, believes the coaching shake-up is just what the team needs. He said:

I’m thrilled with this coaching team. The experience and individual expertise these three men offer is exciting for me as head coach, for the Blues and our supporters.

“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us but I believe the combination of this coaching group puts the Blues in good hands for 2013.”

Back with the Blues

Henry coached Auckland from 1992 until 1997 and was in charge of the Blues for two seasons upon the formation of the Super 12 (now 15) league.

Under the 66-year-old, the Blues won Super Rugby titles in ’96 and ’97.

The franchise, which had 12 capped All Blacks in their squad last year, has not won a title since, coming closest in ’98 and 2003 when they lost (both times) to Crusaders.

Speaking in July, Henry revealed that Blues’ management took away his space ‘for life’ in the car park at the side’s home ground, Eden Park.

He remarked, after he led New Zealand to World Cup victory at the same stadium in November of last year, that he may have done enough to have merited a return of that parking space.

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