Gavin Henson opts to join Cardiff Blues

Gavin Henson has signed an eight-month contract with the Cardiff Blues
Gavin Henson has signed an eight-month contract with the Cardiff Blues

Gavin Henson is back in Welsh rugby after signing for the Cardiff Blues.

The 29-year-old has been searching for a side since French club Toulon chose not to renew his contract last season.

Henson's agents Arruga Sportsexternal-link tweeted, "congratulations to Gavin Henson for signing with Cardiff Blues" but later removed the message, before the Blues confirmed the eight-month deal.

"I wanted to play back in Wales and I'm glad of the opportunity that Cardiff Blues have given me," Henson said.

"I just want to do everything I can to make them happy and enjoy my rugby. I'm glad I've signed here."

The utility back is thought to have been recruited primarily as a fly-half, although Henson has won the majority of his 33 Wales caps at inside centre but has also impressed at full-back.

Henson was selected for the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand, playing in the second Test defeat in Wellington.

The Blues currently have Scotland fly-half Dan Parks and former Wales stand-off Ceri Sweeney in their squad, while Lions and Wales star Jamie Roberts has been in tremendous form in the number 12 shirt during the World Cup.

"The Blues have always had a great squad and there's no change there with all the youngsters that they have," Henson added.

"They are strong at centre and strong at outside-half, so it's up to the coaches where they want me to play. We will have to wait and see."

It is understood that Henson had also held talks with his former region the Ospreys, although the Swansea-based side maintained that any discussions would only be held as "a courtesy".

"There's been huge rivalry between the Blues and the Ospreys over the years, and I've been part of that, so to leave and join the Blues is a bit strange," Henson said.

"I'm sure when I meet up with all the boys it will be fine as I know most of them. When I do run out for my first game for the Blues, I will be Blues through and through."

Henson was included in Wales' provisional World Cup squad and made his first international appearance in two years against the Barbarians last June following protracted injury problems.

The Bridgend product started in Wales' 19-9 victory over England at the Millennium Stadium in August, but a wrist injury sustained during the game ruled him out of the World Cup.

"The wrist is coming along alright. Obviously it was a nightmare injury for me but I'm two weeks out of plaster now, so maybe a couple of weeks before I'm back on the pitch," Henson said.

"It was nightmare timing getting that injury just before the World Cup, but these things happen.

"It's pretty tough mentally now but it's healed and getting stronger, so I'm just looking forward to playing for my new club.

"Going into the England game for Wales I was feeling great physically. I'd done a lot of work with Wales and a lot of training, so I've tried to maintain that as best as I can, but some things are difficult because I was in plaster.

"I hope over the next few weeks now that the plaster is off that I will do other conditioning. I'm dying for the first opportunity with the Blues."

Henson spent a brief spell with Aviva Premiership side Saracens, after negotiating his release from the Ospreys in October 2010 having cited personal reasons for wanting to move to a London club.

Former Wales and Blues centre Tom Shanklin believes that Henson could flourish at his new region.

"I did speak to Gavin a few weeks ago... and he said he was talking to the Blues, and I thought that was a pretty good move for him," Shanklin told BBC Sport Wales.

"I think it's good for the Blues. There's a lot of controversy that follows Gav but he does seem like he really wants to get back into the game.

"He was very keen to put his boots back on and we saw glimpses pre-World Cup against England, until he injured himself, what he's capable of.

"I think if his head's right then he'll be a great signing for us.

"We all want to see a fit Gavin Henson on the field, because we all know what he can do.

"If he's playing in Wales then that certainly makes [Wales head coach] Warren Gatland, [skills coach] Rob Howley and [defence coach] Shaun Edwards' job a lot easier because they can keep an eye on him... it's brilliant news for Welsh rugby."

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