Henson in Wales trial for Boks

2014-05-13 15:03
Gavin Henson (File)

London - Wayward Wales talent Gavin Henson has a chance to revive his stalled international career after being named in a trial match at Swansea's Liberty Stadium on May 30 for next month's two-Test tour of South Africa.

The 32-year-old Henson, one of the most gifted players of his generation but with a chequered past off the field, has not played for Wales since being injured during a 2011 World Cup warm-up game against England in Cardiff.

However, the Bath centre was included Tuesday in a 26-man 'Probables' squad that will play the 'Possibles' in the kind of trial match that was a well-know fixture during rugby union's amateur era but which Wales last used in 2000.

But it is by no means certain Henson, and the other five players at Premiership clubs, will be released for the trial.

English and French teams are under no obligation to release their players for the game as it is not a full Test match as defined by the International Rugby Board.

And even if Bath let him play, Henson will likely need to come through the west country club's European Challenge Cup final against English rivals Northampton in Cardiff the week before if he is to be fit for the trial game.

Northampton wing George North could miss the trial match if the Saints are in the Premiership final at Twickenham on May 31 while the Racing Metro trio of Jamie Roberts, Mike Phillips and Dan Lydiate could also be absent if the Paris club qualify for the French Top 14 final the same weekend.

Several Wales players are set to miss the Springbok series through injury, including first-choice captain Sam Warburton, Leigh Halfpenny, Justin Tipuric, Scott Williams and Richard Hibbard.

And the fact Rhys Priestland, who suffered a knee injury last weekend, has not been named in either of the trial teams, indicates the Scarlets outside-half will also be ruled out of the tour.

Wales coach Warren Gatland is due to announce his 31-man squad for the tour, which includes Tests in Durban and Nelspruit, immediately after the trial match.

Gatland's deputy, Rob Howley, will take charge of the 'Probables', with Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde in charge of the 'Possibles'.

Former Wales scrum-half Howley, who played in the last such Welsh trial in 2000, said Tuesday: "The trial is a great platform for us to see all of these players up close and allow them to pit themselves against each other.

"It takes us back to the traditional Wales trials of old, and gives players an opportunity to put their hand up for the Wales jersey. Both sides will be going hard against each other with players having a point to prove.

"It's also a vital game in our preparation ahead of the tour to South Africa.

"The vast majority of the squad wouldn't have had any game time after last weekend, and this allows us to have a meaningful match."

Read more on:    gavin henson  |  rugby


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