Henry insists it is not all about the money
November 26, 2011
Henry believes leading international players look beyond their pay packet when making career choices © Getty Images
Former All Blacks head coach Graham Henry has rubbished suggestions that leading international players are motivated more by financial gain than the honour of playing for their country.
Confidential reports into England's troubled Rugby World Cup campaign, leaked to The Times newspaper earlier this week, hinted that certain members of the squad were overly concerned by the monetary impact of their disappointing quarter-final exit at the hands of France with one senior player reportedly viewing the side's inability to reach the semi-finals as "£35,000 down the toilet".
England captain Lewis Moody has also been criticised for spearheading a dispute over the level of payments made during the World Cup on the eve of the tournament. But Henry has disputed the claim that rugby players are money-driven and pointed to the preference of the vast majority of his World Cup winning squad to turn down more lucrative offers from overseas to remain in New Zealand.
"That's one of the things I am proud about," he told ESPNscrum "We have only got three guys leaving the team when they could get twice as much money as they are paid now in somewhere like France but they don't want to leave.
"They enjoy it [being in New Zealand] so it is not always about money. They enjoy the environment and enjoy each other's company. If you are learning and getting better then you want to stay. If you are staying and stagnating and not getting better and you are not enjoying the environment then you go.
"That reflects bloody well on the All Blacks team and the people involved in that team. The New Zealand Rugby Union are a great team but it is really what is happening in the All Blacks environment."
Several of the sport's leading figures have come to the defence of Moody with Rugby Players' Association chief executive Damian Hopley who insists the allegations made against the veteran are "wholly without foundation and unfair." Henry has added his support to the 70-Test flanker who announced his international retirement following the tournament in New Zealand.
"That's what the papers are saying but is that true?" questioned Henry. "The media is inclined to jump on those things and blow them out of proportion because I guess that sells newspapers. I know the person concerned and he's a good man so let's not hang him out to dry."
Graham Henry was taking part in an exclusive coaches insight Q&A session at Rosslyn Park RFC made possible by The Rugby Site. Involving some of the biggest names in world rugby, The Rugby Site offers high quality rugby coaching videos and online forums to a global rugby community. Get inside the game now at www.therugbysite.com
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Graham Jenkins is the Senior Editor of ESPNscrum and you can also follow him on Twitter.