Henry's influence more about planning, not beating AllBlacks

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James Mortimer     09 Sep 2012     Getty Images

With what almost seemed to be a cheeky grin, Henry was seen wearing the blue of the Argentineans throughout the week, which has stirred some sections of the media up into a frenzy.

Henry working with the visiting team is part of a seven-week assignment where he has been co-operating with Argentina (not just their national team, but their high performance system) to help prepare them for what is their busiest and most challenging rugby schedule in their proud history.

This, along with $10 million (USD) funding from the International Rugby Board over four years, with assurances that Argentinas top players are available, are all part of a grand plan to give the 2007 Rugby World Cup third place winners regular competition at rugby's highest table.

Some feel that Henry has gleefully been trading in All Blacks intellectual property, knowing that he could add another feather to a very large hat if he could aid the Pumas to create rugby history and record their first win over New Zealand.

But the reality is that, despite some curious reactions from the All Blacks themselves, is that Henry will be working on aspects such as training, preparing for high level tests week-in and week-out, while ensuring that the South Americans use practices and techniques that will one day allow them to be competitive.

Technically, even if Henry was giving the Pumas every All Blacks secret, he would be breaking one of his own coaching mantras - that it is crucial to focus on your own game before looking at the oppositions.

Henry's 'alliance' with the Pumas is not the first time a former All Blacks coach has linked up with the Argentines, with Alex Wyllie working with the team throughout the late nineties.

Such coaching assistance is designed to fast-track progress, with perhaps the IRB and SANZAR aware of the Italian experiment in the Six Nations, which may have been a rightful inclusion - but the Azzurri's nine wins in 65 tests indicate they are still to find their feet.

A shock win in their maiden match over 1999 Five Nations champions Scotland might have brought smiles to Italian faces, but the fact it took 15 test matches to record their second victory spoke of a very long teething process.

The reality is, despite a long association with the All Blacks, is that Steve Hansen said that the team had a few new tricks since Henry had 'retired', while the input of coaches Ian Foster and Brian McLean has been evident as the men in black look to be operating under some different principles to the old regime.

And as captain Richie McCaw said, ultimately analysis or helping break the All Blacks down wasn't anything to do with Henry, it was to do with the video tapes.

"Well you watch last week's game and you pick up what you want anyway," he said.

"It's always the way, you have an idea about what the opposition will do and the key is that you stop it. That's what we make sure we have to do. You don't change much from week to week. It's the subtle changes that are different and that's what we do all the time.