Opinion by Rugby Reporter Jim Kayes
It’s been less than a year since Sir Graham Henry coached the All Blacks to a World Cup quarterfinal win against Argentina.
He’s a knight, and now a Pumas coach - so has he sold his soul and is he selling All Blacks secrets?
If he has and is, the All Blacks aren’t worried. They see Henry’s involvement with Argentina as good for the game and they’re right.
The Pumas need all the help they can get developing their style of play to beyond 10-man rugby. But should Henry be coaching the opposition so soon after being with the All Blacks?
There are few qualms about his new role because it’s Argentina he’s helping and most people are happy for the Pumas to be given a leg up.
We want them to be good because we don’t truly fear them. We need them to add something to the inaugural Rugby Championship beyond a long flight to Buenos Aires.
International rugby needs the Pumas to be a good side all of the time, not just at World Cups. So for Henry to be lending a hand – even if it’s a more hands-on role now he is freed of his NZRU contract – is okay. At least, it is in theory.
But what if the Pumas beat the All Blacks on Saturday? What then? Coaching Argentina to a worthy defeat is acceptable, but beating the All Blacks?
Does Henry then become rugby’s Russell Coutts – a traitor who sold the family secrets? Does he then move into Robbie Deans’ territory as a coach who’s slipped over to the enemy?
Or is Henry simply plying his trade as a professional coach? I think so.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is relaxed about Henry’s involvement but admitted his old boss would have victory in mind when he walks into Wellington’s Cake Tin on Saturday.
"He'll be doing a lot of work with their coaches and hopefully not telling them too much about us," Hansen said.
"But he won't be able to help himself; he's a pretty competitive bugger so I'm sure he'll let a few secrets out."
Henry’s old paymaster, New Zealand Rugby Union boss Steve Tew, says he is comfortable with Henry’s new role.
“I think so. I mean, our guys are moving on, aren’t they,” Tew told me. “They’ve already taken things to a different level.”
Tew reiterated the mantra that improving the Pumas’ play was a good thing.
“We want Argentina to be competitive; I’ll let Graham decide whether it’s the right thing for him to do.”
How the public views Henry’s new job will depend on what happens on Saturday.