Henson secures Wales recall
May 9, 2011
Gavin Henson has not played for Wales since 2009 © Getty Images
Gavin Henson has been recalled to the Wales squad to face the Barbarians on June 4, with Cardiff Blues flanker Sam Warburton to skipper his country for the first time.
Henson has made the cut despite being suspended by Toulon last month while they investigated an altercation involving the 29-year-old and team-mates following a league victory over Toulouse.
He has not played for his country since March 2009 but looks set to be given a chance to push his Rugby World Cup claims after a short spell in the south of France.
No.8 Andy Powell, who was released by Wasps last week after the club probed his involvement in a London bar-room brawl, has not made the cut, with the in-form Toby Faletau preferred along with Ryan Jones.
Faletau, of the Dragons, is one of five uncapped players and is joined in the squad by regional team-mate Lloyd Burns, Scarlets lock Lou Reed and centre Scott Williams, plus Ospreys prop Ryan Bevington.
Warburton will lead a side selected from the squad in the absence of Scarlets hooker Matthew Rees, who is rested, while James Hook will miss the game in order to get married. Scarlets fly-half Stephen Jones will win his 100th cap if called upon.
"This game gives us an opportunity to get Gavin back into the fold. He hasn't been involved for a while, and we want to have a look at a quality player," Wales coach Warren Gatland said. "I am pretty sure the marketing team are pretty happy about it, although I haven't had that discussion with them. It is definitely a rugby reason.
"What I would like to talk about with Gavin Henson is as a rugby player. I know there have been certain issues, but all I can say about Gavin is that when he has been in our squad you couldn't get a guy who has been more professional in terms of the training environment. He has played well for us.
"[Wales backs coach] Rob Howley rang him today and spoke to him, and he's delighted to have an opportunity. I think he knows this is an opportunity for him to go to the World Cup. If we can get the best out of Gavin, I think it would be good for Wales.
"When you pick a squad, you might take the risk of picking someone like Gavin who hasn't had a lot of rugby, and you have got to be careful you don't have four or five players in the squad who haven't played a lot of rugby. We have been prepared to take that risk with Gavin to want to have a look at him back in the fold."
Wales squad to face the Barbarians:
Forwards: P James (Ospreys), J Yapp (Cardiff Blues), R Bevington (Ospreys), S Andrews (Cardiff Blues), H Bennett (Ospreys), R Hibbard (Ospreys), L Burns (Newport Gwent Dragons), A-W Jones (Ospreys), R Jones (Ospreys), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), L Reed (Scarlets), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), J Turnbull (Scarlets), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt)
Backs: M Stoddart (Scarlets), G North (Scarlets), A Brew (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Williams (Ospreys), J Davies (Scarlets), S Williams (Scarlets), G Henson (Toulon), S Jones (Scarlets), R Priestland (Scarlets), M Phillips (Ospreys), T Knoyle (Scarlets)
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