Wales recalled Gavin Henson 'on potential'

Gavin Henson and Stephen Jones discuss tactics during Wales training
Gavin Henson and Stephen Jones discuss tactics during Wales training

Forwards coach Robin McBryde does not believe that Gavin Henson deserves his Wales recall on current form.

Henson will make his first Wales appearance for two years on Saturday in the capped Test with the Barbarians in Cardiff, after being picked at centre.

McBryde says Henson is picked for his "potential", after being asked if the 29-year-old's form merited a recall.

"I suppose the honest answer is 'no' because he hasn't had much game time... but everybody's aware," McBryde said.

"I'm not going to stand here and pretend that he's been playing secretly behind closed doors anywhere.

"There's no substitute for playing rugby... but we have seen that potential.

"If we're able to catch hold of that potential early enough, channel his emotions, intelligence, fitness, etc, you name it, in one way towards the World Cup then Gavin Henson will be an asset to any team."

Henson has not played for Wales since the 2009 Six Nations, largely because of a string of troubling injuries, and is now unattached after French side Toulon opted not to extend his short-term contract.

"In fairness to Gavin I think everybody living in Wales is more than aware of his career so far," McBryde said.

"It can't be very easy living your life in the public eye... and he's had to deal with that.

"He hasn't had the number of games that he should have had, but we know that Gavin has looked after himself but... perhaps he is a little bit undercooked.

"We know he's got the skill, got the talent, he's fitted in very well during the week and like Stephen Jones [who has fallen behind James Hook in the fly-half pecking order but will win his 100th Wales cap on Saturday]... if he's put a good performance in he can sleep quietly knowing he has put his doubters - for the time being - to sleep."

The former Ospreys and Saracens player has been linked with a move to Cardiff Blues, with the Welsh region thought to be keen to strengthen at fly-half.

However, although Henson has said he wants to play regularly at 10, he has told BBC Sport Wales that the Ospreys have first refusal for his services if he ever decides to play his rugby back in Wales.

It is at inside centre, where he has made the majority of his appearances, that Henson will make his Wales return, partnering Scarlet Jonathan Davies in midfield against the Barbarians in Cardiff on Saturday.

The Barbarians are led by Italy number eight Sergio Parisse and includes Welshmen Martyn Williams and Iestyn Thomas, plus lock Paul Tito, while his uncapped Blues team-mate scrum-half Lloyd Williams is among the replacements.

"They've got a very strong side on Saturday and if we overcome that team, and do it well, then I think that everybody will have deserved that cap," McBryde added.