Henson wins Wales recall
June 1, 2011
Gavin Henson has won a recall to the Wales side © Getty Images
Gavin Henson will draw a line under two years away from the international stage on Saturday after winning selection for Wales' Millennium Stadium clash with the Barbarians.
The 29-year-old, who is currently without a club after failing to secure a new contract with wealthy French club Toulon, starts at inside-centre, having last pulled on a Wales jersey in the final game of the 2009 Six Nations.
Henson had brief stints with Saracens and Toulon this season, his first competitive rugby since entering a 20-month self-imposed exile from the game following repeated injury setbacks and television appearances.
"It is an opportunity for players like Gavin to do his talking on the rugby pitch," Wales boss Warren Gatland said. "We have Andrew Bishop, Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies and now Scott Williams, but we need depth, and hopefully Gavin does well and he puts some pressure on the established guys.
"He tells us it's fantastic to be back in this environment, that he has really missed it and he is loving his rugby at the moment, and that is a real positive for us. He knows he just needs to let his rugby do the talking now."
Fly-half Stephen Jones will win his 100th cap, joining Gareth Thomas as Wales' second international centurion, when he lines up in a backs division that also includes his fellow Scarlets Morgan Stoddart, George North and Davies.
Dragons youngster Toby Faletau and Ospreys prop Ryan Bevington will both win maiden caps, with three further debutants among the replacements. Dragons hooker Lloyd Burns, Blues prop Scott Andrews and Scarlets centre Scott Williams are all in line for debuts.
Gatland is without the services of several front-line players, including Six Nations skipper Matthew Rees, wing Shane Williams, fullback Lee Byrne, centres Jamie Roberts and James Hook, plus prop Adam Jones.
The Barbarians line-up, which will be announced tomorrow, is likely to include Wales internationals Martyn Williams and Iestyn Thomas, while Leinster fullback Isa Nacewa has also been invited to join the invitational side.
Wales: M Stoddart (Scarlets); G North (Scarlets), J Davies (Scarlets), G Henson (unattached), A Brew (Newport Gwent Dragons); S Jones (Scarlets), M Phillips (Ospreys); R Bevington (Ospreys), H Bennett (Ospreys), P James (Ospreys), R Jones (Ospreys), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons)
Replacements: L Burns (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Andrews (Cardiff Blues), AW Jones (Ospreys), J Turnbull (Scarlets), T Knoyle (Scarlets), R Priestland (Scarlets), S Williams (Scarlets)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham