Henry gaffe goads Wallabies

Graham Henry (File)
Graham Henry (File)

Melbourne - All Blacks coach Graham Henry has given Australia added incentive before their Tri-Nations title decider by asking if the Wallabies have ever won the southern hemisphere trophy.

Surrounded by a clutch of reporters in Brisbane on Thursday, the 65-year-old former schoolmaster asked:

"Have they ever lifted it (the trophy)?"

When reminded of Australia's back-to-back titles in 2000-01, Henry made a good fist of appearing genuinely surprised.

"I do apologise. Oh, they have done it!" he said.

Defending champions New Zealand have a chance to win their 11th Tri-Nations title at Brisbane's Lang Park on Saturday in the teams' last Test hit-out before next month's Rugby World Cup.

The All Blacks hammered Australia 30-14 in their opening encounter of the abridged Tri-Nations tournament but have named a near-full strength side to take on the world's second-ranked side, who find themselves in contention for the title for the first time in years.

In response, Wallabies prop Ben Alexander was a model of diplomacy and would not be goaded into asking whether Henry's memory extended to 1987 - the last and only time the All Blacks won the World Cup.

"As far as his knowledge goes ... he's been around for a long time and ... It's an honest mistake. He's a very respectful guy," he told reporters.

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