Henry switches to All Blacks lineout coach

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The Independent Online

Graham Henry began his re-education process as a lineout strategist today as the latest All Blacks squad trained for the first time ahead of their end-of-year rugby tour to Japan and Europe.

A switching of the coaches' specialist roles overshadowed the naming of four new caps in the 33-man tour party last weekend - and today all eyes were on the formative stages of the transition.



The forwards emerged first from a team meeting and undertook an unconvincing lineout workout marred by frequent overthrows before they focused on scrummaging.



Former forwards coach Steve Hansen, now in charge of the team's attack portfolio, remained with the backline alongside Wayne Smith, who has been tasked with maintaining Henry's defensive structures.



It was also the first training run in the All Black environment for new backs Mike Delany, Zac Guildford and Ben Smith.



The trio and utility Tamati Ellison, the other uncapped player, gained an insight into life as an All Black when the team assembled here last night.



"We're trying to set the scene for the tour," Henry said.



"There's quite a few guys in their first year in the All Blacks apart from the four new caps.



"We talked about what it's like to be an All Black, guys spoke of their experiences. All the new guys spoke as well about getting picked and what it meant for them."



Injured 71-test veteran hooker Keven Mealamu also addressed the newcomers on the All Blacks' legacy.



"What the All Blacks have done for this country is immense and some of the players don't know these things," said Henry, explaining Mealamu's input.



Henry, meanwhile, is adjusting to his new brief as forwards coach for the first time since his tenure with Wales from 1998-2002.



That set piece has long been a frailty of the All Blacks game and Henry admitted he would not be seeking to remedy it single-handed.



"I've got great people around here. Steve's done it all, he's with me all the time," Henry said.



Australian-born kicking coach Mick Byrne's brief has also been expanded to the lineout -- a role he fulfils in the Japanese national team coaching set-up.



Captain Richie McCaw, senior lock Brad Thorn, prop Tony Woodcock and hooker Andrew Hore also lend their expertise.



Henry admitted the lineout had transformed into a far more complicated facet than when he was in charge of Wales.



"It was 'I want it at A, B and C'. It was never as searching as it is now."



The All Blacks return to the training field tomorrow and again on Thursday before the camp ends ahead of their departure for Tokyo, and the fourth Bledisloe Cup test of the year on Saturday night.



Despite winning the first three instalments to extend New Zealand's current trans-Tasman winning streak to six, Henry insisted a remodelled Wallabies team would prove a challenging start to a tour that includes tests against Wales, Italy England and France before a finale against the Barbarians.



The naming of firebrand flanker Rocky Elsom as captain amid a leadership group shake-up and the injection of fresh talent following Australia's 6-33 defeat at Wellington in September could yield dividends.



"We've beaten them three in a row so they'll be at their best mentally in this game," Henry argued.



"They've made a change at captain and when you make changes that creates a little upward movement on the graph.



"I think Rocky will be good. It means the senior players that that have been overlooked for those roles will want to prove themselves."



Source from: The New Zealand Herald/NZPA

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