Henry - my hunt will go on

David Llewellyn says the Welsh coach plans to keep scouring the world
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The Independent Online

Graham Henry was defiant in victory. After his side had emerged from the mire smelling, if not quite of roses, then at least of daffodils, the New Zealander declared: "The events of this last week have not put me off continuing to look around the world for Welsh qualified players."

The coach was in an expansive mood after a match which was filled with guts and cock-ups. So open was the usually reserved Henry that he even permitted himself to crack a joke at the end of a slightly awkward press conference. When asked if he had any overseas players in mind, he said: "I have 35 in my diary. The Welsh Rugby Union are looking at their birth certificates at the moment."

But the events of the past week have got to the man who was known as the Great Redeemer. He admitted: "I must say I did notice a little pressure over the last week. But I am fortunate to have some close mates who have been very supportive. I also have a very powerful wife - not in weight terms, but in supportive terms. She has been outstanding and I am very fortunate to have all these people around me."

He intimated that he had detected a possible organised campaign against him as he has pursued his policy of world-wide recruitment, in a bid to build a better Wales team. "There did seem to be a story every day this last week," said Henry whose record now reads 13 victories in his 20 matches in charge since he took over in July 1998. "My Welsh friends warned me that I had better get used to this sort of thing and that it can happen again. I just have to get tougher."

As the embarrassment and indignation gathered momentum in the eligibility row so the rumours began to fly of Henry's imminent demise, but he dismissed them yesterday. "It just makes me more determined to do the job to the best of my ability. As a coach one of the things you say to your players is that they have to have guts, tenacity and pride. When you ask that of players then you as coach have to make the same sort of statement.

"I have heard about the rumours but I have not been reading the papers. It all just makes me more determined to build a side to be proud of."

As for the unfortunate pair at the centre of the row - Brett Sinkinson and Shane Howarth - and their feelings on this Welsh victory, Henry said: "Shane and Brett will be absolutely delighted with the result. You can't go through 18 or so matches without feeling camaraderie with these guys and they will be as pleased as the guys in the team were. And I am pretty hopeful that Shane will be back."

Whether the Scots ever will be is another matter. Yesterday, they felt they had plenty of opportunity but failed to take advantage. Their error count was twice that of Wales and captain John Leslie said grimly: "The errors were nothing to do with the atmosphere in the Millennium Stadium. They have to be put down to individuals. Every player has to be accountable. I dropped the ball under the posts at one stage and Wales came back 60 metres. It is just not good enough."

Ian McGeechan expressed his disappointment in his side's inability to score tries. "It was not that we weren't creating chances," he said. "It was just that we were not putting them away. We were creating space then not finishing it off."