Henson included in initial World Cup squad
June 4, 2011
Gavin Henson was left disappointed by his display on his return to the Wales team against the Barbarians © Getty Images
Centre Gavin Henson has been included in Wales' 45-man World Cup training squad.
The 29-year-old, without a club since he was released by Toulon, made his first international appearance since the 2009 Six Nations Championship against the Barbarians today, playing for 62 minutes before being substituted.
Joining Henson in the squad are veteran flanker Martyn Williams, who turned out for the Barbarians this weekend, and Melbourne Rebels No.8 Gareth Delve, who has been rewarded for a strong Super Rugby season with a place on the panel.
"He looked a bit rusty at times but I thought there were some really nice touches. He held his depth well and there was a lovely pass to put George North away for a try and that's the quality he has got," coach Warren Gatland said of Henson following the Barbarians game.
"There were a couple of [poor] kicks, but he knows he is a bit off at the moment - but he showed some nice touches. We want to work with him the next few months. He has been good the last few weeks and it's frustrating that every press conference the story is about Gavin. Let him play some rugby and work hard and see what shape we can get him in."
There is no place in the squad for Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar or Wasps' Nicky Robinson, with the Dragons' Jason Tovey included as a fourth fly-half option behind Stephen Jones, James Hook and Rhys Priestland.
"We have been impressed with Jason and watched him closely," Gatland said. "He is a left-foot kicking option and has a good kicking game. But if you look at the kicking [at goal] percentage of the 10s available to us, that is an area he can work on.
"He is in the high 50s with his kicking percentage, Nicky is in the low 60s, and you look at guys like Stephen Jones and James Hook who are kicking at almost 80% accuracy. To win Test match rugby you need to kick your goals at the highest level. We have been impressed with his general play and he has done enough in attack to be selected."
Alongside Tovey, the other uncapped players in the squad are Scarlets lock Lou Reed and Ospreys flanker Justin Tipuric with all 22 players who featured against the Baa Baas being included in the party.
Wales preliminary squad for the World Cup:
Wales preliminary squad for the World Cup: Forwards: H Bennett (Ospreys), L Burns (Dragons), R Hibbard (Ospreys), M Rees (Scarlets), S Andrews (Cardiff Blues), R Bevington (Ospreys), P James (Ospreys), G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), A Jones (Ospreys), C Mitchell (Exeter), J Yapp (Cardiff Blues), L Charteris (Dragons), B Davies (Cardiff Blues), AW Jones (Ospreys), L Reed (Scarlets), G Delve (Melbourne Rebels), T Faletau (Dragons), R Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Dragons), R McCusker (Scarlets), A Powell (Sale Sharks), J Thomas (Ospreys), J Tipuric (Ospreys), J Turnbull (Scarlets), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), M Williams (Cardiff Blues)
Backs: T Knoyle (Scarlets), D Peel (Sale), M Phillips (Ospreys), R Rees (Cardiff Blues), S Jones (Scarlets), R Priestland (Scarlets), J Tovey (Dragons), J Hook (Perpigan), A Bishop (Ospreys), J Davies (Scarlets), G Henson (unattached), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), G North (Scarlets), A Brew (Dragons), M Stoddart (Scarlets), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Shane Williams (Ospreys), L Byrne (Clermont Auvergne), L Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues)
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