Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Barbarians wait on dancer Henson

Gavin Henson's performances on Strictly Come Dancing this autumn will dictate whether he is able to make an appearance for the Barbarians in December.

Wales centre Henson is set to make his return to rugby after accepting an invitation to play for the Barbarians against South Africa at Twickenham on December 4.

The controversial Ospreys back has not played since March 2009 after suffering an ankle injury in an Anglo-Welsh Cup defeat against Gloucester and then opting to go on unpaid leave. He is currently in training for the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing programme, which does not conclude its live run until just before Christmas.

Baa-Baas registrar Alan Evans told BBC Radio Five Live: "We are going to monitor the situation closely. One of two things could happen - Gavin could turn out to be another Matt Dawson (who was the runner-up to cricketer Mark Ramprakash in 2006) and he'll still be dancing on December 4, and good luck to him with that.

"But what we have offered him is the opportunity - if he turns out to be more, shall we say, a Joe Calzaghe than a Matt Dawson in 'Strictly...' and he's out of it fairly early on, we think the situation with his rugby career will take a new turn and we would like to bring him on board and train him with our top-notch squad."

The 28-year-old has been linked with moves to several Aviva Premiership clubs including Wasps, London Irish, Harlequins and Bath. All have denied having any discussions over a move for Henson. He was also recently selected to model the new Wales kit in a marketing campaign, upsetting several members of the current national squad.

But he now appears ready to finally lace up a pair of boots again, having voiced his desire to play for his country at next year's World Cup in New Zealand, although the Barbarians will monitor the 31-cap three-quarter's fitness ahead of the Twickenham clash.

Barbarians contracts manager Mike Burton said: "All the signs are that we are putting together a very strong squad worthy of such a prestigious occasion.

"Obviously our invitation to Gavin will attract a lot of attention. He has other commitments outside rugby and he is conscious of the need for match fitness in order to do himself and the club justice.

"We will be in regular contact with him and his home club, the Ospreys, in the next few weeks and, all being well, our big game at Twickenham will be the first opportunity to see him back on the representative stage."


From Belfast Telegraph