Graham Henry was not at his most waspish – why would he be, after guiding New Zealand to the world title? – but there was enough of a sting about the celebrated coach when it was suggested he might like to take on the vacant England job. "I have enough problems," he said, decisively. "I'm still contracted to the New Zealand union, I want to live in New Zealand, I don't have the time or the energy or the desire."
That was surely a "no", unquestionably and unmistakably, although Henry sounded even more dismissive by pronouncing it "nah".
The 65-year-old Henry had seemed to show interest in linking up with England in an advisory capacity, a suggestion that led some to place him close to the top of the Rugby Football Union's wish list when Martin Johnson called time on his stint as national manager (right). Yesterday the last vestiges of that interest, such as it was, had evaporated, presumably because Henry now understood the grisly black comedy being acted out at Twickenham.
He even backtracked on widely quoted comments that had been presented as an endorsement of Johnson – to the effect that the RFU might be unwise to get rid of a manager who had spent three and a half years learning the ropes and could now use his experience to make a better fist of it.
"I wasn't talking about anyone in particular when I made that statement, which was a general statement," Henry said. "I do believe that too often, unions sack people or move people on when they are in a position to get better at what they're doing: if someone is a quality coach, they can learn a lot from experience. But I can't assess Martin as a coach because I've never seen him coach. I know him from 2001 [when Henry took the British and Irish Lions to Australia with Johnson as skipper] and I was very impressed, but that was a coach-captain relationship. I know nothing about the present situation."
Henry is, however, intrigued by the possibility of hooking up with a European club side at Heineken Cup level. "I've had no concrete offers, but I've had a chat with a couple of people," he said. "I'm interested in that side of things because the tournament interests me. I don't think it's something for this season, maybe next year..."
In town to coach the Barbarians, who play Australia at Twickenham this weekend, the New Zealander did not rule out a return to Test rugby at some point but said there was "zero chance" of any kind of comeback inside 12 months. "I need some recovery time," he said. "A World Cup is a hell of a hard thing to win. Bloody hard. Things are always different in those tournaments because teams play better, play with more emotion.
"I enjoyed the competition, except for the last half-hour of the final when I **** myself, and I feel very privileged to have been a part of something that touched the whole country."Reuse content