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Mealamu hails outgoing Henry

Keven Mealamu has paid a glowing tribute to New Zealand coach Graham Henry as the All Blacks supremo prepares for his final game at the helm - Sunday's World Cup final against France.

Henry will step down following the biggest match in New Zealand rugby history, guaranteed legendary status should the All Blacks end a 24-year wait for global domination.

Mealamu, who will equal Sean Fitzpatrick's record of 92 Test appearances as New Zealand's most-capped hooker, said: "He has been a very special man on and off the field. I've learnt a lot off him as a player, and he is quite a genuine man off the field as well. He really cares about the boys, so I know the boys will be wanting to put on a good performance for him this weekend."

New Zealand are overwhelming favourites to be crowned world champions, but Mealamu maintains France will be tough nuts to crack despite an inconsistent World Cup campaign scarred by defeats against the All Blacks and Tonga.

"I don't think they are under-rated," Mealamu insisted. "We haven't under-rated them. We know the challenge we have ahead of us.

"I know a lot of people have written them off, but we know how good they are. You just have to look at history to see how good they are.

"We will prepare well and make sure we are ready for the French because we know from history that we've failed against them."


From Belfast Telegraph