Victory would be 'marvellous' says New Zealand coach Graham Henry
Friday 21 October 2011
Graham Henry admits it would be "marvellous" to see his New Zealand team crowned world champions.
Despite being the world's top team for several years, New Zealand have not won the World Cup since 1987 when they beat Sunday's opponents France.
But with Les Bleus struggling for form and the All Blacks fresh from a thoroughly convincing semi-final victory over Australia, they will never get a better chance to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy.
"I've been with a lot of these guys for a long time, and although they may be ranked the leading team in the world, they've never been world champions," said head coach Henry, who steps down from his role after the final.
"It would be just marvellous to have that title because they've had every other title that is going in rugby apart from this one.
"So for (captain) Richie McCaw and the boys I think that would be fabulous. I think they are good enough, and that would be the icing on the cake."
Henry has predictably retained the side that crushed Australia five days ago. The only switch is among the replacements, where flanker Adam Thomson has recovered from an ankle strain to take over from Victor Vito.
The team contains a total of 708 caps, and they will start as red-hot favourites against a French side they have already beaten in the tournament's pool phase.
The All Blacks back-row of Jerome Kaino, McCaw and Kieran Read will play their 21st Test together, breaking the previous New Zealand-best held by McCaw, Jerry Collins and Rodney So'oialo.
And hooker Keven Mealamu wins his 92nd cap, joining Sean Fitzpatrick as the most capped New Zealand hooker of all-time.
Henry added: "This is our 12th Test match in 14 weeks. I don't think that has ever happened before, so it's pretty demanding, the constant rugby and the toll that takes on the body and the mind.
"This French team, we are not sure who is going to turn up, quite frankly, so we have got to prepare that they're going to be the best in the world.
"They have certainly got the individuals to do that, it's just whether they can produce that as a side. All the word is that they've prepared well and they are very focused and they are enjoying the underdog tag.
"They feel that they are not being considered in this final by a lot of people. We don't think that. We think they're a very good rugby team.
"Their forward pack is probably as good a forward pack as we will play in this competition. Their scrum is very, very good, they've got a world-class loose forward trio and they have got backs who can bite you."
Jose Mourinho highlights Arsenal spending over last 'three or four years', says Gunners are ready to be a title contenders
Manchester United fans want Louis van Gaal to sign Cristiano Ronaldo over Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski this summer
Angel Di Maria latest: PSG have 'only offered £28.5m' for winger, Manchester United holding out
Chelsea vs Barcelona preview: 'Football without titles is nothing,' says Jose Mourinho
Charlie Austin to Newcastle: Magpies expected to make £13.25 bid for QPR striker
- 1 Lord Sewel quits: Peer 'boasts of having sex with BBC presenter and seeing 13 mistresses'
- 2 Topshop pulls 'ridiculously skinny' mannequins after being shamed by customer on Facebook
- 3 Five-year-old boy forced classmate to simulate oral sex at primary school, claims mother
- 4 Black and ethnic minority people twice as likely to be hit by Tory cuts than white people, report finds
- 5 Polish court orders bank to repay drugged man after he spends £23,400 in lap dance bar
The 9 charts that show the 'left-wing' policies of Jeremy Corbyn the public actually agrees with
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
The last thing Labour needs is a leader like Jeremy Corbyn who people want to vote for
What the Labour party could look like under Jeremy Corbyn
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park