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Australia in Europe 2009 / News
Welsh Rugby
Gatland: Henson return would be 'fantastic'
Scrum.com
November 30, 2009
Wales centre Gavin Henson in action against Italy, Italy v Wales, Six Nations Championship, Flaminio Stadium, Rome, Italy, March 14, 2009
Warren Gatland believes that the return of Gavin Henson would be a boost for Wales © Getty Images
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Warren Gatland has admitted that a return to action for Gavin Henson would be a "fantastic" boost for Wales.

Gatland made the admission following his side's humbling 33-12 defeat to Australia at the Millennium Stadium, when they were outclassed in attack and outscored four tries to nil by the Wallabies.

Henson is currently on unpaid leave from his Ospreys contract as he continues to struggle with injury problems. He has not pulled on a Wales shirt since the final game of the Six Nations, a 17-15 loss to Ireland, but started all ten games of Wales' Grand Slams in 2005 and 2008.

Henson's absence for region and country has been compounded by the loss of British & Irish Lions Adam Jones, Mike Phillips and Lee Byrne, with tight-head Jones conspicuous in his absence as the Welsh scrum was routed by the Wallabies.

"I haven't spoken to Gavin, but it would be fantastic to see him come back in," said Gatland. "It's not just his attacking ability, but his defensive qualities as well.

"He's a big, powerful rugby player. I haven't spoken to the Ospreys in terms of whether he is going to come back, but it would be fantastic for Gavin to come back and be available. I just think of the quality we've got to come back into the side - Adam Jones, Lee Byrne, Mike Phillips, Gavin Henson possibly."

Wales were booed from the pitch by a capacity crowd on Saturday following their heaviest home defeat since Gatland took the reins ahead of the 2008 Six Nations. Next up for them is a trip to face England at Twickenham in the Six Nations followed by a demanding summer tour to New Zealand - earmarked by Gatland as the key to their improvement.

"I don't take losing too well," he said. "I am pretty hard on myself, and the players as well. The criticism is justified. "We are quite happy to put our hands up and take some flak and criticism because we set very high standards and expectations of ourselves, and we want to try to achieve them.

"We are still trying to build some depth, but we are not running away or trying to hide from playing the best teams in the world. The only way we are going to get better is to play against the best."

Phillips and hooker Matthew Rees, who suffered a suspected torn groin muscle against Australia, remain doubts for the start of the Six Nations.

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