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Tuesday, September 28, 1999 Published at 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK


UK: Wales

Graham Henry - the man behind the myth

Wales, not Auckland, will be Graham Henry's home until 2003

"I'm going to New Zealand and I'm going tonight," - words to strike fear into the soul of any Welsh rugby supporter, writes BBC Wales's Bob Humphrys.

Graham Henry was heading home to the land of the long white cloud, a country that was obviously missing him too.


Bob Humphrys talks to the man the New Zealanders call 'Saint Henry'
But Welsh supporters need not worry, this was just a visit to recharge batteries on the lead in to the World Cup, it was a holiday.

BBC Wales accompanied Graham Henry to see what they put in the Auckland water that makes a rugby redeemer. While 12,000 miles away they are equally curious about how he has turned no-hopers into World Cup contenders.

First stop, New Zealand's Terry Wogan, Paul Holmes - or just Holmes to his audience - who cut his broadcasting teeth at Swansea Sound .

Graham Henry said leaving Auckland, where he made the rugby team one of the most feared in the world, came at a cost.

"They said 'yeah, you can go but there are three stipulations'," said Henry.


[ image: Not all Graham Henry's experiences in New Zealand were happy ones]
Not all Graham Henry's experiences in New Zealand were happy ones
"'One, you don't coach anybody else but Wales. Two, you give up your car park and two free tickets for life to Eden Park and three, we want you to pay NZ$25,000 compensation to the Auckland Rugby Union'."

There are ways to forget about the downside of leaving home after a messy divorce from former employers - like getting reacquainted with a few favourite New Zealand wines.

It is easy to forget that for much of his life rugby coaching was very much secondary to Graham Henry's school teaching.

His time at Auckland Grammar, where he nurtured players like Grant Fox, was followed by the headmaster's job at Kelston, a school with a 70 % Polynesian intake.

Bittersweet visit

It was a challenge, stimulating and rewarding, helped by staff that included a teacher from Llandeilo.

But it was a bittersweet visit - the family home has to be let, the pets like Zac the dog have to be given away to friends.

It is not just a rugby coach that is upping sticks to move round the world, it is a whole family .

He does not deny he misses Auckland but he says he has no doubts that his home will be in Wales until 2003.



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