Rugby World Cup 2011
John baffled by Henson inclusion
July 17, 2011
Gavin Henson made his Wales comeback in last month's clash with the Barbarians © Getty Images
Welsh rugby legend Barry John has questioned Gavin Henson's place in Warren Gatland's World Cup training squad and insists that the centre is in "no real state" to play Test rugby.
Former Ospreys ace Henson took an indefinite leave of absence from the game in 2009 following a spate of injuries and some personal problems before making his long-awaited return earlier this year with Saracens. However, his time at Vicarage Road was short-lived, Henson securing an early release from his contract to hook up with Toulon. His brief stint in France ended in acrimony, with Henson failing to secure a long-term deal after being involved in a bust-up with team-mates.
In spite of all of this, Wales boss Gatland decided to select Henson for last month's Test against the Barbarians. The former British & Irish Lion failed to sparkle but he now looks set to play in a World Cup for the first time in his colourful career after making the cut for the second of Wales' pre-tournament training squads in Spala, Poland. That is something that John just cannot get his head around.
"It baffles me somewhat that the name of Gavin Henson still features on the list of personnel travelling out to Spala this weekend to continue the World Cup build-up," the revered fly-half told Wales on Sunday.
"In my view, Henson is very lucky to still be in with a chance of finally landing the World Cup spot he covets, having been left out by Steve Hansen in 2003 and Gareth Jenkins in 2007. Four years on, he is in no real state to play top level international rugby. But he is clearly a Gatland player, a key member of the coach's thinking for this autumn.
"Gatland has always admired Henson's skills, deftness of hands, clever running and exciting talent. Of that there is no doubt. But, if we're being brutally honest, we're talking here about the Gavin Henson of three years ago, not the model in 2011."
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