World Cup-winning coach Sir Graham Henry says the need to feed “a disease” is one reason he’s joined the Blues set-up for next season’s Super Rugby competition.
Henry will be an assistant to another of New Zealand’s rugby knights, new Blues coach Sir John Kirwan.
He says he didn’t need much persuading to accept the job, because it brings him home, cuts down on travel and fulfils a desire to stay involved in coaching the game.
“I’ve got a disease and I need to feed it,” he said on Wednesday.
“It’s just part of me. I love the game and I enjoy the coaching. You’re mixing with young guys, which keeps you young, and there are challenges and I enjoy challenges.”
Henry said he had an approach from Kirwan’s predecessor, Pat Lam, to act in a similar capacity this year.
He had a lot of time for Lam, but wanted some space after the end of the All Blacks’ successful World Cup campaign last October.
“There’s been a bit of water run under the bridge since the Rugby World Cup,” he said.
“I’m in a position where I can do this now.”
Henry was Blues coach when the Auckland-based franchise won the first two Super titles in 1996 and 1997.
After returning from a stint coaching Wales, he was a technical adviser to Peter Sloane in 2003, the last time the Blues finished champions.
Also part of Kirwan’s team will be All Blacks skills coach Mick Byrne and Grant Doorey, who has worked with Kirwan in Japan and Italy.
Byrne’s emphasis will be on the forwards and on kicking, while Doorey will look at skills and the backline.
Kirwan, whose specialist area will be the attack, said he believed in having strong coaches around him, just as Henry did with the All Blacks.
“For me, the buck stops here,” he said.
“But from a management point of view, these guys will be in charge of their areas and they will have all the space they need.”