Wales have been dealt some cruel blows in the build-up to the upcoming Six Nations championship, not least through the absence of impressive World Cup locks Alun Wyn Jones and Luke Charteris.
In an attempt to re-galvanise a squad that performed so admirably at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, coach Warren Gatland has re-introduced once integral utility man Gavin Henson.
Appearances on reality TV series’ have come more regularly for Henson than international appearances in recent years, after appearing on programmes such as The Bachelor and Strictly Come Dancing, during a self-imposed 18-month sabbatical from rugby after continued injury struggles.
Gatland though, who likely would have included Henson in his World Cup squad had he not suffered a wrist injury in a warm-up game, is hopeful that his versatile midfield man can have as positive an impact on the side as he did in Wales’ triumphant 2005 and 2008 Six Nations campaigns.
While admitting that Henson is below peak fitness, New Zealander Gatland explained his will to run the rule over the Cardiff Blues player to BBC Sport, proclaiming+ “I think he is definitely underdone at the moment. It’s really for the coaches to get a bit of a hands on with Gavin, have a chat to him, see where he is physically and mentally and look at him again back in our own environment.”
The inclusion of Henson was not the sole surprise of the named Welsh squad, who are 6/4 to beat Ireland in their first Six Nations tie, and 11/4 second-favourite to claim the championship.
Six uncapped players have also been named, while the likes of fly-half Stephen Jones are omitted, and Gatland justified his brave selection by stating, “We have players who performed well at the World Cup, but there are still times when we need to be a bit more inventive in the midfield. Gavin also gives us versatility in other positions.”