Henry, who has coached Auckland, the Blues, Wales, the British, Irish Lions and as well as the All Blacks in his distinguished career, arrived in the Cook Islands yesterday, ahead of him featuring as the guest speaker for the Air New Zealand Tourism Awards on Friday night.
Having stepped down from the head coaching role in 2011 after bringing New Zealand their first World Cup trophy in 24 years, Henry said that he still keeps himself very busy.
“I’m back coaching rugby again with the Auckland provincial side,” Henry said, clearly having not totally gotten rid of the coaching bug.
“My wife Raewyn and I are also involved in various charities, and I speak quite a bit which keeps me busy. I also have three kids and five grandkids.”
During his week-long stay in the Cook Islands, which is his first visit, Henry will be visiting with local rugby clubs, as well as Cook Islands Rugby Union president Sean Smith.
Although he wasn’t ready to take on the responsibility of ensuring that the Cook Islands make it to the next round of Rugby World Cup qualifying, he was interested in their chances.
“There’s a chance there to qualify further. They enjoy their rugby and they’ll do their best, and that’s all that they can do. And if their best is good enough, they’ll progress.”
He also brought up the idea of an under-85kg or weight-restricted World Cup, something he said he’s keen on as a way to increase the Pacific Islands’ international exposure, and maybe even the odds against larger countries.
And watching from afar, Henry was overjoyed with the success of the New Zealand men’s and women’s teams at the Commonwealth Games.
“It was fabulous. The girls weren’t ranked number one in sevens, but they just hung in there and that young lady, Kelly Brazier, ran 80 metres to score.
“And the boys never looked like losing. They had control of the game, very well coached I thought. (Coach Clark) Laidlaw has done a fabulous job, and they seem to be enjoying themselves.”
He also mentioned that former All Black centre Conrad Smith was full of praise for Laidlaw.
“He had Laidlaw as a coach while with the Hurricanes and he said that he’s a very good coach. Conrad doesn’t give out bouquets very often, so he must be a very good coach, and you could see it in the way they played.”