London Welsh set to approach Henson
July 5, 2012
Exiles skipper Jon Mills on the task facing his side next term
London Welsh boss Lyn Jones has confirmed that former Wales centre Gavin Henson is in his sights as the Premiership new boys look to bolster their squad ahead of their debut in the top flight.
The Exiles are hastily preparing for the new season having only secured promotion last week by over-turning an RFU decision to block their ascent on primacy of tenure grounds. Faced with a race against time to build a playing squad capable of holding their own in the Premiership, Jones believes that Henson still has plenty to offer despite a troubled past.
The 30-year-old, who helped Wales to the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2005 and 2008, was sacked by Cardiff Blues in April following an alcohol-related incident having previously failed to impress in short spells with Premiership side Saracens and Top 14 club Toulon.
"I'm not ruling anyone out and I'll get on to the phone to Gavin to see if he's interested, that's for certain," Jones said. "He used to be a very good rugby player and I'm sure that if he has the appetite he could be a very good one again. He's one of a number of players that we'll speak to. There's been no contact so far."
Speaking at the launch of next season's Premiership fixtures that will see London Welsh kick off their campaign against Leicester Tigers, Jones also revealed that he has been swamped with offers from agents.
"Last night was the first time I could reply to some text messages I've had. It's been non-stop and it's been wearing," he said. "The phone calls started on Friday - 'are you interested in Joe Bloggs? Yeah, he's benching 120kgs and plays cricket!' These agents are salesmen.
"We don't want to rush and just sign anyone. Player recruitment is an ongoing process. There are a few people we have our eye on, but we need to spend our money wisely.
"We were budgeting on going up next season, but it's happened a year early and we must react. We must be bolshy in the market, the way we play and the way we prepare. Any player who is worth anything is already signed up to a contract.
"We need to develop a team as quick as we can. Fitness, strength, desire and honesty will be key components. If we can be a difficult team to play against then we might achieve our goal."
In related news, tournament organisers have confirmed that London Welsh will play in next season's Amlin Challenge Cup competition. The Exiles, promoted to the Aviva Premiership last month after winning an appeal, have been drawn in the same pool as Stade Francais, Grenoble and Italian club Cavalieri Prato.
© 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