All Blacks: Sir Graham Henry slams ‘unfair, unkind vitriol’ from New Zealand public, urges Kiwis to ‘stand together’

·2-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Former All Blacks head coach Sir Graham Henry has urged the New Zealand public to “stand together” and get behind the team rather than criticise it.

With the pressure mounting on current boss Ian Foster, captain Sam Cane and many of the players, the knives have been out amongst the media and public.

This is due to the All Blacks suffering five defeats in their last six internationals, which includes three successive losses, ahead of another daunting fixture.

Unfair, unkind vitriol

Indeed, on Saturday they meet the world champion Springboks in their second Rugby Championship clash, with Henry wanting supporters to remain positive.

“When Kiwis stand together, we achieve amazing things,” the 2011 Rugby World Cup winner said in his column for the New Zealand Herald over the weekend.

“The players, the captain Sam Cane and their coach Ian Foster have been subjected to unfair, unkind vitriol. These guys are giving their all. The distasteful, mean-spirited tone of the criticism coming from our own people and aimed at our team has made me wonder: Whatever happened to the team of five million?

“Whinging and moaning? That’s not the Kiwi way – it’s embarrassing, and it’s not how we want the rest of the world to see us. The young men who will represent us need to know that we stand with them.”

New Zealand’s defeats have come against the current top three sides in the world rankings and Henry believes these Springboks are one of the great teams.

Praise for current Boks

“These All Blacks face a Bok blitzkrieg like none that has come before: This is the best Springbok team I have ever seen – and I was there at Lancaster Park in 1956, so I’ve seen a few,” he continued.

“Right now, the All Blacks are rebuilding while the Boks are at their best. The brilliant Siya Kolisi leads a very mature side – they are worthy world champions who play with focused intensity and the ability to reset the game to suit their strengths and negate those of their opponents.”

He added: “Nevertheless, the All Blacks can win. But to do so, they need to know we stand with them. True sports fans stand with their side in fair weather and foul. For more than a century, All Blacks fans have been lucky to experience more sunshine than gloom. But dark days are here right now. And in challenging times you must stand together if you’re going to stand tall.”

READ MORE: Rugby Championship preview: Springboks to beat the All Blacks and signal the end of Ian Foster’s reign

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