Henson sets sights on Wales recall
December 20, 2010
Saracens' Gavin Henson shows off his footballing skills ahead of his expected Aviva Premiership debut at Wembley on Boxing Day © Getty Images
Gavin Henson has yet to make his first appearance for new side Saracens but the enigmatic back is already targeting a return to the Wales squad in time for next year's Six Nations.
The former British & Irish Lion has been out of the game since March of last year because of a combination of injuries and personal problems but, having negotiated his release from former club Ospreys, he is now hoping to restore his once stellar reputation with Sarries.
Henson, who helped his country record Grand Slams in 2005 and 2008, will make his eagerly-awaited debut for the English outfit in the Aviva Premiership clash with London Wasps at Wembley on Boxing Day and he is determined to make an instant impact in order to catch the eye of Wales boss Warren Gatland.
"The bigger picture is the Six Nations and the World Cup with Wales. Hopefully I can get into those squads, but to do that I need to be playing well for Saracens," he told talkSPORT.
"It would mean everything to me. I've missed playing for Wales and that's the reason I came back into rugby. I've got a good record in the Six Nations and I'd love the chance to do that again."
Henson took to the field at Wembley for the first time on Monday to practice his goal-kicking and admitted afterwards that he could not have hoped for a better venue at which to make his return to competitive rugby. "What a stadium," he said. "The pitch is awesome. It will be a great stage to come back to after 21 months out. Hopefully the game hasn't changed too much!"
Henson signed for Saracens at the tail end of October but his debut was delayed by his outstanding commitments to the BBC entertainment show Strictly Come Dancing. He is now 100 percent free to focus on rugby but admits that his preparations were hindered by his participation in the competition.
"I've no idea where I'm at but I'm feeling pretty good. The skill levels are not too bad in training, it's going to be fun. I just hope I perform pretty well," he said.
"I've only had one or two days training with Saracens per week because the dancing just continued until the end. I've not had much contact work but it should be all right. I should be able to wing it some way hopefully."
Indeed, Henson is just intent on enjoying his rugby again after a turbulent period in his life which saw him endure a very public break-up with pop singer Charlotte Church, with whom he has two children.
"The reason I moved from Wales was because of the personal reasons," he said. "It was tough for me with all that was going on with Charlotte. I was cut to pieces about it to be honest and at the time the Welsh media wasn't too kind to me. I thought the right move was to move out of Wales and hopefully be appreciated again.
"I didn't really know what I had done wrong, but a bit of time away in London will be good for me hopefully. It's a great squad Saracens, a great team environment, great facilities. Hopefully I can repay them now by playing well."
And while he has revelled in his celebrity TV roles he is desperate to be taken seriously once more on the rugby field. "That's the goal now," he said. "I want to get back to the top of the game, play really well and win honours in rugby again. I have missed that and playing for my country. I would like to think I can play better than I did before.
"I feel refreshed mentally and physically. I'm hoping that will give me an edge and the adrenaline side of stuff when I do start playing will get me through. There will be a bit of banter in rucks and stuff and they may be out to get me a little bit. That is all fun and part of the game. I don't mind that."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"Family is Jean's priority and he puts that into a team context." Firdose Moonda pays tribute to Jean de Villiers with input from Allister Coetzee
The Monday Maul turns its attention to drunken nights out, a blunt-talking coach, hidden agendas and crooked feeds
As if beating the Springboks and Pumas on their home turf is not onerous enough Australia, it also involves a road trip from hell writes Greg Growden
He teed up Obolensky's try, fought in Burma and played cricket for Warwickshire - we Rewind to look at the story of Peter Cranmer