Henry eyes redemption against Springboks - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Henry eyes redemption against Springboks

By Daniel Gilhooly 21/09/2009 03:06:02 PM Comments (0)

Coach Graham Henry is already talking up the All Blacks' shot at rugby redemption against the Springboks next year.

The prospect of a better run with injuries and some reinforcements from Europe have Henry quietly confident of footing it with the world champions, who set the standard in winning this year's Tri-Nations.

Touted as a tight tournament before it kicked off two months ago, a clear pecking order emerged. South Africa whitewashed New Zealand, who in turn completed a clean sweep of last-placed Australia with Saturday's 33-6 win.

The Springboks are in a different league to a young Wallabies side who appear to carry mental baggage into Tests against New Zealand.

Henry emphasised that point, doing his utmost to play down the scale of his side's improvement, despite a fine all-round showing.

"We didn't make the same sort of errors but we weren't under the same sort of pressure," he said.

"It's a different game against different opposition. At the moment we're struggling to handle that South African pressure, particularly if we can't get solid first phase ball.

"It takes a wee bit of time for these guys to be competitive against a side that is choc-full of internationals who have played a lot of Test matches together."

Henry estimated that injury had left him without 10-12 quality players who could make a difference against South Africa. The likes of prop Carl Hayman and other English-based former All Blacks such as Nick Evans, Aaron Mauger and Doug Howlett could yet be added to the mix either next year or leading up to the 2011 World Cup.

"There's a lot of people coming back from injury, there may be one or two come back from overseas next year," Henry said.

"When all those guys come back, and with the current squad, there's going to be a lot of competition for places. That should improve the side immensely.

"The big test is when we play the boys from South Africa again and see how we function at lineout time."

Competition begins on the tour of Japan and Europe starting in five weeks.

Henry's next hurdle is another dead rubber Test against the Wallabies, in Tokyo on October 31.

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