Cardiff announce Henson deal
October 18, 2011
Gavin Henson forced his way back into the Wales squad only to see his World Cup hopes dashed by injury © Getty Images
Cardiff Blues have confirmed the signing of Gavin Henson after the news was leaked online by the agency which represents the Wales international.
The versatile centre has been without a club since parting company with Toulon at the end of last season but Arruga Sports announced on Twitter on Tuesday evening that their client had put pen to paper on a contract with the Blues. "Congratulations to Gavin Henson for signing with Cardiff Blues... great news!" read the tweet, which was later removed from the social networking website.
The region then confirmed Henson's arrival in the Welsh capital on their official website, revealing that the the player had signed an eight-month contract with the Blues.
"I've been saying I wanted to play back in Wales and I'm glad of the opportunity that Cardiff Blues have given me," Henson said. "I just want to do everything I can to make them happy and enjoy my rugby. I'm glad I've signed here."
The deal, which is expected to be officially confirmed on Wednesday, signals a return to Wales less than a year after he felt compelled to negotiate an early release from his contract with the Ospreys after growing weary of media intrusion into his private life on account of the break-up of his relationship with singer Charlotte Church.
Following his departure from the Liberty Stadium, Henson, after a short stint on Strictly Come Dancing, linked up with Saracens but he soon became frustrated by his lack of first-team opportunities at Vicarage Road and signed a short-term deal with Top 14 outfit Toulon earlier this year.
The former British & Irish Lion, who played a key role in his country's Grand Slam successes in 2005 and 2008, made a promising start to life in France, scoring a try on his debut against Stade Francais, but he was not offered a new deal by Toulon, primarily because of disciplinary problems off the field.
In spite of this, Henson earned a recall to the Wales squad over the summer but his hopes of featuring in the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand were ended by a broken arm sustained in the August warm-up clash with England at the Milllennium Stadium.
Since then, Henson had only been seen on another reality TV show, The Bachelor, but he has now turned up at the Cardiff City Stadium adamant that he will prove he still has plenty to offer at the top level once he fully recovers from his injury.
"The wrist is coming along alright," he said. "Obviously it was a nightmare injury for me, but I'm two weeks out of plaster now, so maybe a couple of weeks before I'm back on the pitch.
"It was nightmare timing getting that injury just before the World Cup, but these things happen. It's pretty tough mentally now, but it's healed and getting stronger, so I'm just looking forward to playing for my new club, The Blues.
"Going into the England game for Wales, I was feeling great physically. I'd done a lot of work with Wales and a lot of training, so I've tried to maintain that as best as I can, but some things are difficult because I was in plaster.
"I hope over the next few weeks now that the plaster is off that I will do other conditioning. I'm dying for the first opportunity with the Blues.
"The Blues have always had a great squad and there's no change there with all the youngsters that they have. They are strong at centre and strong at outside-half, so it's up to the coaches where they want me to play. We will have to wait and see."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
"If there was a cross breed of canine called an Underdogdoodle it would win best in show at Crufts." Mark Durden-Smith looks at the Aviva Premiership Final
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry