Familiar faces
Henson starts at 10 and Kirchner at fullback as Jackman names team for Leinster
The pair will make their competitive debuts for the Welsh region against Leinster tomorrow.

AT 35, GAVIN HENSON will begin the next, and potentially final, chapter of a storied career when he starts at out-half for the Dragons in tomorrow’s Guinness Pro14 clash against Leinster.

Gavin Henson after the game Dan Sheridan / INPHO Henson is back in the Guinness Pro14. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

The former Welsh international and Lion has been named in Bernard Jackman’s first starting XV as Dragons head coach for the visit of the eastern province to Rodney Parade [KO 3.15pm, Sky Sports].

Zane Kirchner, meanwhile, will face his former employers after leaving Leinster at the end of last season to join the Welsh region. The 31-time capped Springbok spent four years at the RDS and will start at fullback on Saturday.

Henson announced his sensational return to Welsh rugby back in March as he returns to the Guinness Pro14 after spells with London Welsh, Bath, Saracens, Toulon and, most recently, Bristol in England.

Henson previously lined out for Ospreys and Cardiff Blues in the competition, scoring 645 points in 82 appearances.

“Gav has been exceptional since the first day of pre-season,” Jackman said.

“Every time he trains you look at him and go he’s world class. We need someone like him who has that winning mentality and inner self-belief and talent to back it up.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing him play tomorrow. He has played one game in pre-season as he had a bit of a knock against Bath, so he is obviously not going to be at his best but it is exciting to have him part of this Dragons regime.”

Saturday’s visit of Leinster will mark the beginning of a new era for the Dragons following a summer of change. Not only are they underneath a new head coach but the Welsh Rugby Union have taken over the club to ensure a more stable financial footing going forward.

That stability has allowed former Leinster hooker Jackman to come in and make his mark on the club, both on and off the field with a number of changes within the environment in a bid to change the Dragons’ fortunes.

Bernard Jackman Luke Duffy / INPHO Bernard Jackman comes up against his former side this weekend. Luke Duffy / INPHO / INPHO

Cory Hill, one of the Welsh players called up the Lions squad during the summer by Warren Gatland, has been installed as captain and tomorrow’s team also includes Welsh international Hallam Amos and the talented Ashton Hewitt.

An opening fixture against Leinster has extra significance for Jackman and a big crowd is expected on Saturday to witness what they hope will be the start of something special in south east Wales.

Dragons (v Leinster):

15. Zane Kirchner
14. Ashton Hewitt
13. Tyler Morgan
12. Jack Dixon
11. Hallam Amos
10. Gavin Henson
9. Charlie Davies

1. Brok Harris
2. Elliot Dee
3. Leon Brown
4. Matthew Screech
5. Cory Hill (captain)
6. James Thomas
7. James Benjamin
8. Harri Keddie


16. Rhys Buckley
17. Luke Garrett
18. Lloyd Fairbrother
19. Rynard Landman
20. Max Williams
21. Tavis Knoyle
22. Angus O’Brien
23. Jared Rosser.

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