Wales recall Gavin Henson in squad to face Barbarians

Gavin Henson
Henson has made three appearances for Toulon this season

Gavin Henson has been named in Wales' 26-man squad to play the Barbarians on 4 June at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

The 29-year-old Toulon centre won the last of his 31 caps in March 2009 against Ireland.

Dragons number eight Toby Faletau, 20, is one of five uncapped players in a squad that will be captained by Blues flanker Sam Warburton.

Scarlets fly-half Stephen Jones is set to join Gareth Thomas as Wales' most capped player on 100 appearances.

After negotiating his release from his Ospreys contract following two injury-wrecked seasons, Henson signed for Saracens last October but did not play for the English side until finishing his commitments to appear on two television reality shows.

Injury curtailed his involvement at the English Premiership side and he joined Toulon in February, but he has only played three games since joining the big-spending French club because of injury and disciplinary problems.

The former Ospreys player scored a try on his Toulon debut against Stade Francais but was suspended for a week on 18 April following an incident involving a team-mate at a nightclub.

However, Henson - who can also cover the full-back and fly-half positions - returned to the Toulon squad last weekend, coming off the bench in their defeat at Montpellier.

There is no place in the squad for Andy Powell, who has had his own disciplinary problems recently following a bar brawl that saw the back-row part company with club London Wasps "by mutual consent".

Wales coach Warren Gatland is without injured stars Bradley Davies, Jamie Roberts, Leigh Halfpenny and Gethin Jenkins as well as James Hook, who is getting married that day.

But Gatland has also opted to rest some of his regulars and taken the chance to reward players who have shone in the latter half of the season.

Hooker Lloyd Burns joins Dragons team-mate Faletau, plus Scarlets duo Lou Reed (second row) and Scott Williams (centre), and Ospreys prop Ryan Bevington as the uncapped players in the squad.

Aled Brew, who last featured for Wales against Fiji in November 2010, also returns and the Dragon will contest the wing places with Shane Williams, George North and possibly Morgan Stoddart, although the Scarlet could be picked in his preferred full-back role.

The Baa-Baas side will feature the likes of Italy talisman Sergio Parisse, South Africa Rugby World Cup-winners Francois Steyn and Ruan Pienaar, plus 98-times capped Wales flanker Martyn Williams.

Sale Sharks scrum-half Dwayne Peel is also being lined up for a place in the Barbarians squad to face Wales and England, after missing out on Wales squad selection.

"We have selected some exciting youngsters who have been chosen on form in the knowledge that there are a few players who are being rested or are injured for this game, but it means they have a chance to impress," said Gatland.

"It's a great opportunity for us to look at some players that have been hitting their form over the last few weeks.

"These are really exciting times for us as a squad, the Rugby World Cup is on the horizon and we begin our preparations with this first-up match against the Barbarians, before two intensive training camps in Poland and then our final three matches in August [two against England before playing Argentina].

"Sam Warburton takes over the captaincy mantle from Matthew Rees, who is rested. Sam is one of the leaders in the squad and will benefit from the experience of captaining the side after having such an impressive Six Nations campaign."

Wales squad v Barbarians (Millennium Stadium, Cardiff; 4 June 1430 BST):

Forwards: 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).

Backs: 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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