British & Irish Lions
Henry looks for the positives
July 15, 2001
A day after his Lions side lost the series decider against Australia in Sydney, coach Graham Henry was determined to reflect on the positives.
"Immediately after the game, I said that it hadn't been a successful tour because we didn't win," said Henry. "But I have tried to be realistic today and look at the bigger picture.
"The number of people I spoke to last night were trying to be supportive and said what a wonderful tour it has been, how much they have enjoyed the rugby and how much they have respected the people on the field giving 100%.
"I guess that you've got to look at the bigger picture and say there are a lot of positives to come out of it. The vast majority of the players have been marvellous professionals, great to work with.
"I have enjoyed working with a lot of very professional people. Some of the players have been quite outstanding - Rob Howley, Jonny Wilkinson, Brian O'Driscoll, Richard Hill, Martin Johnson, Keith Wood - you can go on and on.
"These are marvellous professional people who gave absolutely everything and it has been good to rub shoulders with them over the past seven weeks. You can never repeat that experience with those people, so it is stimulating and good to look back on."
Henry had a a special word for his skipper Martin Johnson. "Martin is one of the foremost rugby players in the world," said Henry. "He is highly respected by the players, knows the game and speaks well and it is motivational to the guys.
"He is a quality rugby player, he's world-class and has been very successful as a captain at all levels. He couldn't have done any more than he did for this Lions tour."
Looking back on thegame Henry was left to admit the better side won. "You look back on it and say we got turned over at line-out, got turned over at ruck and maul - and that's the game," Henry added.
"Australia are the best in the world - they handled the pressure better than we did. At the end of the day, when you go on these tours, I guess the bottom line is to win. You feel that's what you are here for, to try and win the Test series.
"In many respects, the rugby has been outstanding - both sides have played to a hugely high standard. Grounds have been full to the brim and they couldn't find grounds big enough to hold all the spectators who wanted to go.
"It was 2-1 to the opposition, which is the disappointing factor, but we gave it our best shot. I don't think that we could have done any more, and you have got to give the Australians big congratulations for what they've achieved. They played a very strong Lions side and still kept their heads above water."