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Henson recalled to Wales squad by Gatland

Star given chance to play himself into World Cup set-up despite recent controversy.

Image: David Jones/PA Archive/Press Association Images

GAVIN HENSON WILL hope to be making headlines for all of the right reasons on June 4 after Welsh coach Warren Gatland handed him an international lifeline.

The 29-year-old back has been recalled for Wales’ friendly test against the Barbarians in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, bringing to an end his self-imposed exile from the national set-up which has lasted for over two years.

Sam Burton will captain the 26-man panel which includes five previously uncapped players – Lloyd Burns,Toby Faletau, Lou Reed, Scott Williams and Ryan Bevington.

Henson, who has 31 international caps to his name, indicated late last year that he wished to represent his country once again, engineering a move from Saracens to Toulon in February in an attempt to increase his playing time and improve his match-fitness.

The star only made two appearances for the Top 14 side, however, before he was landed with a week-long suspension for breaching the club’s disciplinary code.

Although it was widely reported that Henson’s contract would be terminated with immediate effect, club president Mourad Boudjellal decided not to sack the Welshman though it is not yet known if the French club are still prepared to extend the player’s stay beyond the summer.

This latest misdemeanour appears not to have critically damaged Henson’s hope of representing Wales at this year’s World Cup, with Gatland staying true to his earlier promise to allow the centre a chance to earn his place on the flight to New Zealand.

The game against the Barbarians marks the 130th anniversary of the Welsh Rugby Union with players then receiving a two-month break before their first World Cup warm-up game against England on August 6.

Wales (v Barbarians): P James (Ospreys), J Yapp (Cardiff Blues), R Bevington (Ospreys), S Andrews (Cardiff Blues), H Bennett (Ospreys), R Hibbard (Ospreys), L Burns (Newport Gwent Dragons), A-W Jones (Ospreys), R Jones (Ospreys), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), L Reed (Scarlets), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), J Turnbull (Scarlets), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt); M Stoddart (Scarlets), G North (Scarlets), A Brew (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Williams (Ospreys), J Davies (Scarlets), S Williams (Scarlets), G Henson (Toulon), S Jones (Scarlets), R Priestland (Scarlets), M Phillips (Ospreys), T Knoyle (Scarlets).

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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