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Burton keen to see Henson back

Barbarians contracts' manager Mike Burton claims the game would benefit from seeing Gavin Henson back playing regular rugby.

The Wales centre has not played since March 2009 after suffering a succession of injuries and has opted to go on indefinite unpaid leave from the Ospreys but Henson has accepted an invitation from the Baa-Baas to be part of their squad to face South Africa at Twickenham on December 4.

"It's good news for everyone," the former England and Lions prop said. "We don't consider this a coup for the Barbarians. We tend to look at a wide range of players to invite to come and join us. But we feel that Gavin is a great talent who is not currently being utilised and we felt the game was losing out."

The 28-year-old is currently appearing on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing programme and an extended run in that competition would almost certainly mean he would be unable to turn out against the Springboks.

But Burton is hopeful the 31-cap three-quarter will be involved for the traditional closing fixture of the autumn international window, and revealed Henson was eager to accept the chance to appear.

"He was delighted to accept and we then had to go through getting the required permissions," said Burton.

Burton confirmed that the Barbarians desire to invite Henson had the blessing of the Ospreys, who the player is under contract to until next summer.

The double Grand Slam winner has recently said he wants to return to playing away from the Swansea-based region, and he has been linked with moves to a host of Aviva Premiership sides including Wasps, London Irish and Bath, but all have denied holding any discussions over a deal.

Burton said: "I had a tentative talk with (Ospreys chief executive) Mike Cuddy and he advised us to have a chat with Gavin and get back to them. They were quite laid back about it, just to see how it would work. As I said Gavin was very happy to get the invite. In my personal opinion this could be the thing that kicks the bolt off the door in terms of him playing regularly again.

"It will be a great experience for him to get a chance to share a room with some of the Australians or New Zealanders in our party, as previously he will only have played against them. January is the deadline to the Ospreys to register players for the second half of the Heineken Cup and it is in everyone's interest to get Gavin back playing."

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