x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Henry under pressure ahead of clash

The former Wallabies captain John Eales has questioned New Zealand's decision to reappoint coach Graham Henry.

The Wallabies coach Robbie Deans with his captain Stirling Mortlock. John Eales said he was surprised New Zealand did not opt for Deans.
The Wallabies coach Robbie Deans with his captain Stirling Mortlock. John Eales said he was surprised New Zealand did not opt for Deans.

SYDNEY // The former Wallabies captain John Eales has questioned New Zealand's decision to reappoint coach Graham Henry after the All Blacks' failure at last year's World Cup. Eales said he was surprised New Zealand stuck with Henry instead of opting for Robbie Deans, who took on the job of coaching the Australians after missing out on the All Blacks' position.

The two coaches will confront each other at the Olympic Stadium tomorrow in an intriguing twist to a test match that could play a decisive role in determining this year's Tri Nations title. Media criticism of Henry mounted in New Zealand after his team's 30-28 loss to South Africa in Dunedin two weeks ago and Eales said he was clearly under far more pressure than Deans, who is still in a honeymoon period with the Wallabies.

"I think Henry's a wonderful coach... but it (last year's World Cup failure) would have been playing on people's minds," Eales said. "I think it adds a bit more pressure on him than on Robbie." Henry has been keeping a low-profile in the build-up to the match, opting to keep his team in New Zealand until yesterday rather than travel earlier to Australia to acclimatise. New Zealand have had mixed results in Australia when they have stayed at home to train.

* Reuters