Graham Henry might have been conspicuous by his absence at the Millennium Stadium, but the ex-Wales coach still had his former players in mind at the end of their epic 37-33 Six Nations defeat by France.
The man who stepped into his shoes 10 days before yesterday's game, Steve
Hansen, revealed that Henry was the first man on the phone to the Welsh
dressing room after the game.
And Henry, who is back in New Zealand recharging his batteries after three
and a half years in the Welsh coaching hot seat, told his Kiwi successor that
he was "rapped" by the way his former charges had played.
"Graham was straight on the phone after the game and he told me that he was
disappointed we had been beaten but he was rapped by the performance," said Hansen.
"It was great to hear from him because much of what we put in to practice
here today was down to Graham.
"He helped in the preparation for this game and he has been a big part of
things for the last three and a half years. I know the players, like me, have enormous respect for him."
And Scott Quinnell said the players would not forget the input Henry had during his time with the national team.
"Graham is a great bloke and a great coach, he was responsible for lifting Welsh rugby off the floor three and a half years ago and we will not forget that in a hurry," said Quinnell.
"I was proud of the way we battled back from the experience in Ireland and with
the way we stuck together over the past two weeks.
"Alot of disappointing things have been said and we were hurting after that
performance in Ireland. We had to come here and prove to the public that we were not as bad as that performance suggested.
"What's more, I would have to remind those people who critcise us, that I have never known a player to deliberately go out on to the field and play badly."
But whilst Quinnell was understandably upset by the result, he was certainly not looking to blame anyone else.
"The video referee played a big part in this game, but I know for a fact that I
didn't ground the ball when I got over the line. We are not making excuses at
all, I was just pleased with the belief we had in ourselves and the way we
approached what was a difficult game.
"I thought we showed that we wanted to play rugby and that when we get some
momentum going, we can score tries against the good sides like France. Yes, we are disappointed, but now we have to make sure that we move on from here and improve once again."
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