Graham Henry believes controversies can lift Wales

Graham Henry
Graham Henry coached Wales from 1998 to 2002

New Zealand coach Graham Henry believes recent off-field controversies can work to Wales' benefit ahead of the 2011 World Cup.

Scrum-half Mike Phillips was the latest Wales player to hit the headlines after a late-night incident in Cardiff.

But Henry, who resigned as Wales coach in 2002, thinks his former side can develop a stronger team spirit.

"I usually think that a bit of adversity actually produces some edge," said the 65-year-old New Zealander.

"As long as it doesn't happen every week."

Phillips was banned following the incident in June but was subsequently reinstated and is now training with the rest of the squad in Poland as they build-up to the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, which kicks-off on 9 September.

Wales squad members Gavin Henson, Andy Powell and Bradley Davies were all involved in separate bar brawls in April, but escaped any punishment from the Welsh Rugby Union.

Centre Jamie Roberts suffered a cut lip following an incident at a Cardiff nightclub during last season's Six Nations championship.

Assistant coach Shaun Edwards was suspended for the final match of last season's Six Nations after an altercation with fellow backroom staff member Fergus Connolly, who was also punished by his employers.

"I think they'll be disappointed in that, but those sort of things often bring a team right as they're embarrassed by it and need to prove themselves, and it lifts the group to overcome those situations," added Henry, who resigned as Wales coach in 2002 following a three-and-a-half-year spell in charge.

Wales, who are currently ranked seventh in the world, open their World Cup campaign in Wellington against South Africa on 11 September.

Warren Gatland's men are joined in Pool D by Fiji, Namibia and Samoa - and Henry thinks the current Wales coach will use recent negative publicity to motivate his side.

"I'm sure Warren [Gatland] is annoyed by it, but maybe there is some benefits," added Henry, in an interview with BBC Radio 5live.

"Sometimes when you have those situations, it creates an extra edge in the group."

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