Gavin Henson eyes 'last' Wales chance in Baa-Baas game

WALES v BARBARIANS

Venue:
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Date:
Saturday 4 June
Kick-off:
1430 BST
Coverage:
Live on BBC Two Wales, BBC Radio Wales & the Scrum V website.

Gavin Henson believes that his Wales return against the Barbarians in Cardiff on Saturday could be his "last chance" to play in a World Cup.

The centre, 29, has won two Grand Slams with Wales but has yet to figure for his country on the highest stage.

Henson makes his first Wales appearance for two years and a good outing could persuade coach Warren Gatland that he needs Henson in his World Cup squad.

"It's a massive game for me, I've been out for two years," Henson said.

"It's an amazing feeling to be back involved, I've really missed it.

"It's a massive World Cup coming up and it's my last chance to try and impress on Saturday to try and get involved in the summer internationals, and obviously the big picture of the World Cup."

With several of Gatland's established first-team players not involved against the Barbarians, the capped match is a chance for the coach to run the rule over fringe players and try out some new combinations and tactics.

Perform well and Henson - and the other 'possibles' - might get the nod for the three August internationals among the returning 'probables', the established players who are almost certain to be on the plane to New Zealand in September.

But a bad game against the Baa-Baas could see the door closed on the opportunity to make a further impression in back-to-back Tests against England and a one-off with Argentina.

"The World Cup is... the biggest spectacle, the biggest thing in a rugby career," Henson said.

"I missed out on the last two and I don't want to watch this one on tv again, I want to be there and have an influence on it."

Henson will run out at the Millennium Stadium after a topsy-turvy season when he returned to the game following first a string of injury problems and then a stint in the world of celebrity television shows.

A brief, stuttering stint for Saracens was followed by a cameo for Toulon that ultimately ended without a new contract being offered by the French side.

Injury delayed his debut for the big-spenders from the south of France, but when he did take the field Henson scored on his debut as Toulon saw off Stade Francais 38-10.

But the Bridgend-born player was also suspended for one week following an altercation with a team-mate in a bar.

Henson has said that says his contract negotiations broke down when Toulon asked him to choose between the club and his country, underlining his burning desire to finally play at the World Cup.

He will line up at inside centre alongside Scarlet Jonathan Davies, who has impressed in tandem this season with Jamie Roberts, the 2009 British and Irish Lions man of the series in South Africa.

"I'd love to come into this game on the back of 20 or 30 games under my belt, but I just want to try and impress," Henson added.

"I've only had three or four starts this season, it's not ideal but I've got one chance and I've got to take it.

"Hopefully the coaches will like it and I'll get a chance in the summer internationals then.

"I understand I'm pretty low down in the pecking order at the moment but I hope I can turn that maybe.

"There's a lot of good centres, I'm really impressed by all the youngsters that are out there.

"It's a young team on Saturday. The skill levels on them, the fitness levels on them is second to none.

"I think Wales' future is looking really good, I'm really impressed and hopefully I can fit into that Saturday and we can get a good performance and a good win."

Wales: Morgan Stoddard (Scarlets); George North (Scarlets), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Gavin Henson (Unattached), Aled Brew (Newport Gwent Dragons); Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Michael Phillips (Ospreys); Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Paul James (Ospreys), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), Danny Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), Toby Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: Lloyd Burns (Newport Gwent Dragons), Scott Andrews (Cardiff Blues), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Josh Turnbull (Scarlets), Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Scott Williams (Scarlets).

Barbarians: Isa Nacewa (Leinster and Fiji); Paul Sackey (Toulon and England), Seru Rabeni (La Rochelle and Fiji), Mathieu Bastareaud (Stade Francais Paris and France), Doug Howlett (Munster and New Zealand); Brock James (Clermont Auvergne), Sebastien Tillous-Borde (Castres Olympique and France); Iestyn Thomas (Scarlets and Wales), Sebastien Bruno (Toulon and France), Carl Hayman (Toulon and New Zealand), Iosefa Tekori (Castres Olympique and Samoa), Paul Tito (Cardiff Blues), Joe van Niekerk (Toulon and South Africa), Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues and Wales), Sergio Parisse (captain, Stade Francais Paris and Italy).

Replacements: Leonardo Ghiraldini (Benetton Treviso and Italy), Davit Kubriashvili (Toulon and Georgia), Erik Lund (Biarritz Olympique and Norway), George Smith (Toulon and Australia), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues), Willie Mason (Toulon), Benoit Baby (Clermont Auvergne and France).