There aren’t many players in the world of rugby that divide opinion quite as much as Gavin Henson. The mercurial Henson returned to the game last season after a self-imposed sabbatical from rugby.
However, things didn’t go to plan with spells at Saracens and Toulon both ending in acrimonious circumstances. Despite his continued problems, Henson has been handed the chance to earn his place in Warren Gatland’s 30-man World Cup squad later this year.
After returning to action for Wales in the defeat to Barbarians last month, Henson has maintained his place in the squad and is still thought to be very much in Gatland’s World Club plans, despite playing just a handful of games in the past two years. Wales’ head coach has made no secret in the past about how highly he rates the versatile back, although that isn’t a view that everyone in Wales has taken. Those looking at the Betfair Rugby World Cup betting 2011 will be wondering if he deserves his place on the plane.
Former Wales and British Lions fly-half Barry John this week slammed the decision to include Henson in the preliminary World Cup squad, claiming the 29-year old is no condition to be playing international rugby after such a long absence from the game.
“In my view, Henson is very lucky to still be in with a chance of finally landing the World Cup spot he covets, having been left out by Steve Hansen in 2003 and Gareth Jenkins in 2007,” he said.
“Four years on, he is in no real state to play top level international rugby. But he is clearly a Gatland player, a key member of the coach’s thinking for this autumn.”
The fact is though, that Henson is one of a small band of Welsh players that can control a game and inject some genuine talent into proceedings, as those who follow the rugby betting odds will know.
If either Stephen Jones or James Hook suffer injury, then Henson would be the obvious choice to step into the duo’s shoes. There will always be a doubt about Henson’s temperament but he must be aware that this really is his final drink in the Last Chance Saloon, and would be a fool to do anything to risk that at this stage.