France v New Zealand, Rugby World Cup Final, October 23
Henry tries to keep a lid on emotion
October 17, 2011
All Blacks head coach Graham Henry talks to the media in Auckland © Getty Images
New Zealand head coach Graham Henry has urged his side not to get carried away with their impressive Rugby World Cup semi-final victory over Australia.
The All Blacks comprehensively outplayed with Tri-Nations rivals to record a 20-6 victory and book a final date with France next Sunday. The historic win, that keeps the hosts on course for a first World Cup crown since 1987, sparked jubilation among players and a capacity crowd at Eden Park but Henry has warned that nothing has been won as yet.
"It's very important we come down," he stressed. "It was a huge game on the weekend, we can't stay up there. We've got to come down, get to base again, clean sheet of paper and build again for this Test match on Sunday against the French because, although they didn't play particularly well in their semi-final, we know they've got the ability to play outstandingly and they've done that in the past."
Henry's biggest fear is that France produce another epic World Cup performance to end the All Blacks' hopes of ending a 24-year drought in the sport's showpiece event. "The French team, they can be the best in the world on their day," Henry added.
"The All Blacks have had some great Test matches against the French during the last eight years, starting with that Paris Test in 2004, which was a game that put a lot of these young guys on the map and a lot of them now have played 70, 80, 100 games for the All Blacks. But in 2007, after beating the French by 50 points or thereabouts in a game prior to that, we got beaten in the quarter-final. That's the reality.
"There's history in All Black-French Rugby World Cup games. Outside of that, apart from a Test in Dunedin, I think we've won every game. So we've won every game in France and lost one game at home over the last eight years to the French and lost a Rugby World Cup quarter-final, which was the most bizarre game that I've ever been involved in.
"There is a lot of history there, the boys respect the French team, they've got a lot of very talented players and it will be a good final."
South African referee Craig Joubert has been handed the honour of taking charge of the final - an appointment welcomed by Henry and one that he believes will also please his players.
"He's a very good ref. I think he's a referee who relates well to players on the field," said Henry. "He's very clear on his instruction, he has a lot of composure out there. He's developed as probably the top referee or one of the top referees in the world over the last three or four years.
"It's pleasing because the players enjoy playing when he's refereeing and that's a sign of a good referee. He's cool out there, he communicates well and makes good decisions, which is critical."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.