'Ted' outlines strategies on building a remarkable team

Sir Graham Henry drew plenty of laughs yesterday from delegates at the Local Government New Zealand conference in Queenstown, as he attempted to make a correlation between the All Blacks' success and politics.

"I'm finding it hard to make the correlation and I'm not quite sure why I'm here," the former All Blacks coach quipped, before outlining a series of strategies integral to winning the 2011 Rugby World Cup, in which he hoped the audience might find "one or two things" relevant to political success.

The first parallel he drew in his "Building a Remarkable Team" talk was the accountability both the All Blacks and local government members had to the people of New Zealand.

"We've got the biggest sporting brand in the world based on the percentage of wins ... this [All Black] team has won round about 80% of its contests over ... 110 years."

Trying to "increase and add to that legacy" had always motivated the All Blacks to achieve goals such as being the first team to win all six games in the Tri-Nations Series in 2010.

Sir Graham recalled hearing of rugby fans' anguish during the nail-biting Rugby World Cup final last year.

"I've talked to people who were walking up and down their driveway; I've talked to people who took some sleeping pills and went to bed; people were hiding behind the couch ...

"there was total silence in the stadium because people froze ... it's amazing because your reaction to that is what we're trying to avoid on the field."

Sir Graham described his own inner turmoil as the prospect of a World Cup final loss loomed.

"I was thinking the south of France wouldn't be bad ... I could while away my time there until I died."

His discussion on "handling the unexpected" covered his reaction to Dan Carter's world cup-ending groin injury.

"Ted on the inside was a mess but outside I looked pretty cool, I think."

Then there was Richie McCaw's broken foot, which was a "bloody shambles", but highlighted the captain's strength and resilience.

"How he played with that foot I've got no idea, but if he hadn't have played I don't think we'd have won."

Sir Graham heaped praise on the leadership of McCaw, who he described as "bright and brave and inspirational".

"This has a lot to do with politics ... he fed the team that night and Beaver [Stephen Donald] was in the side. There's all sorts of criteria for selection."

Sir Graham was quick to simplify matters when it came to his official title.

"This 'sir' business, I'd like to clarify it. It's a title I've been given on behalf of 44 people and someone had to carry it and I'm very proud to carry it ... but the real name is Ted, it's easy to say, T E D."


lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz

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