Henry puts faith in leaders
All Blacks coach has quiet confidence in new faces
By Claire Hughes. Last Updated: 08/11/08 7:39pm
New Zealand coach Graham Henry is not worried about sending out an inexperienced team against Scotland on Saturday because he knows he can rely on his on-field leaders.
Henry has made sweeping changes to the team that beat Australia last week, including three debutants and six players with fewer than ten caps each.
But he is confident that captain Keven Mealamu will do a great job.
"He's a special All Black in the way he conducts himself both on and off the field. He's a great role model for the other guys," Henry said.
"He's an outstanding player. I'm delighted that he's got this honour. He'll captain the way his character is.
"He'll gather information from the other leaders in the team and make a decision and he'll lead from the front with his own performance.
The All Blacks have a six-leader policy on the pitch, and even those not in the nominated six are expected to do their bit such as the two back row debutants, Kieran Read and Liam Messam, who have both captained their provinces this year.
It is clear there is a heavy nod towards development on this tour, but even with that in mind, winning Test matches will always be the number one priority.
"This is the only opportunity the All Blacks have to develop a rugby team with some depth to it," added the former Wales coach.
"You can't do it in a one-off game against Australia or South Africa, so if we didn't have a tour we couldn't do it at all.
"Hopefully we'll go home from this tour a much stronger unit, with greater competition for places.
"But it is not only about development. Just because the tour enables us to develop players that doesn't mean we haven't got a huge desire to win each Test match.
"We haven't come here on a development tour, we have come here to do well, play well, and hopefully win."