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RAEWYN: OUR DEBT TO WALES.

Byline: By Leah Oatway Wales on Sunday

The wife of All Blacks coach Graham Henry says the couple have Wales to thank for the prowess which is destroying the might of the British and Irish Lions.

Speaking before yesterday's record-breaking 48-18 Lions defeat, courtesy of her husband's awesome side, former Wales netball coach Raewyn Henry, said: 'It was a difficult decision for us to leave Wales, but it was definitely the right one.

'The pressure of the 2001 Lions tour proved to be a breaking point and Graham knew he was leaving the team in good hands with Steve Hansen. If we had not left then, Graham would not have the job he has now.'

And she says her husband has the Welsh to thank for his winning ways.

Raewyn, who left Wales with Graham in 2002, said: 'We both know that we are much better coaches for the experiences we had in Wales.

'We feel very fortunate and privileged to have coached in Wales and will be forever grateful for the opportunity.'

And Raewyn, who coached the Welsh netball team to the Commonwealth Games and World Cup before leaving, also confirmed what we long suspected - the New Zealanders may be rugby-mad but they've got nothing on the Welsh.

Despite the British and Irish Lions losing two of the three Test games in New Zealand, Raewyn said: 'Although both places are passionate about rugby, in my experience Welsh people are more rugby-mad than New Zealanders. But we would be a close second!'

While they are happy to be home, the mum-of-three says they do miss Wales. All of their family is now back Down Under - both sons living in Auckland and their daughter in Sydney.

She said: 'Graham and I are enjoying being back home, although it took us a few months to settle back. It's been great to catch up with all our old friends and our families.

'Mostly, we miss the people. We made some wonderful friends in Wales. A few have already visited and no doubt I will see some next week when the third Test is in our home town of Auckland.

'We also miss the easy opportunities for travel - being able to go to Europe for a few days.'

And the nicest things about New Zealand?

'The lifestyle, the scenery, the ability to take part in a varied number of outdoor activities whether it's skiing, white water-rafting and playing sport. We live near the sea, which is very nice.'

With her husband coaching the spectacular New Zealand rugby side Raewyn says she will of course be cheering them on next weekend.'

But she adds: 'I hope the Welsh boys play well. It's been good to see a number in the team for the second Test - not surprising considering they have been the form players on tour up to date.

'Graham and I will always have fond memories of our time in Wales.'
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 3, 2005
Words:487
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