Let's See Henson Show His Class against World Champs

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), November 24, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Let's See Henson Show His Class against World Champs


Byline: By Gareth Edwards

Wales have a golden chance to wipe the slate clean today at the Millennium Stadium, but let's just hope they have brought their dusters.

Wales have not only been handed the opportunity to claim a small piece of redemption against the world champions South Africa after their World Cup exit, but the likes of Gavin Henson can prove to the world that they are back in business.

I must admit I was pretty sceptical when I first learned about this fixture and, short of raising some cash, I questioned the need for yet another Test match so soon after the World Cup.

However, circumstances in rugby always change and now this game has far more significance than any of us could have predicted so many months ago.

Who would have thought that we would be facing the world champions with a caretaker coach, and another New Zealander on the way to take charge of Wales?

However, what has made this fixture far more appealing for the spectators is that there is now so much more on this game.

Not only is a chance to lower the colours of the World Cup winners, but an opportunity for every one of these Welsh players to lay down a marker to new coach Warren Gatland before he arrives next week.

There are young players looking to make a name for themselves in the red jersey, as well as more well-known names out to nail down a place for the Six Nations and those hoping to re-establish themselves under the new regime.

Of course, all eyes will be on Henson. This is a perfect game to bring Gavin back into the fray. We all know the potential he has, but what we have all had to endure alongside him over the past 18 months is a torrid run of niggling injuries that can be so frustrating for a player.

Not only has he suffered a series of injuries, but there is little doubt that he is unique in the pressures from outside the game that fall on his shoulders. The eyes of the world seem to be upon him at all times, even when he is not playing, and that, perhaps, took its toll and, along with fatherhood, has deflected his attention away from the game.

However, as wonderful as fatherhood is, at the end of the day, Henson is a rugby player and has a job to do.

He has undoubted ability and I think we would all dearly love to see him reproduce that for Wales and there could be no better time than today - against the world champions.

He is showing signs of form, but he now needs to start fulfilling his potential over the next year if he is avoid wondering what could have been.

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