Toulon, the super-rich French club challenging hard for a place in the domestic Top 14 championship play-offs after putting 40 points on the Heineken Cup semi-finalists Perpignan at the weekend, were today expected to give a clear indication of Gavin Henson's future, or lack of it, on the shores of the Mediterranean.
Many observers expect the Welsh midfielder to be declared surplus to requirements for next season following the latest in a series of unfortunate events: a scuffle with team-mates during after-match celebrations earlier this month, sparked by his barbed criticism of some of the club's leading figures, including Jonny Wilkinson.
Henson was suspended following the incident, which happened in a bar in Hyères, and missed the Perpignan match. As Mourad Boudjellal, the high-profile Toulon owner, has been heard lamenting the player's attitude – "He has been difficult to manage," Boudjellal conceded – it may be that his stay in Provence will end after just two senior appearances. The two men met yesterday to discuss matters, with an announcement due within 24 hours.
Philippe Saint-André, the Toulon coach, had cast doubt over Henson's continued employment at Stade Felix-Mayol before the trouble in Hyères. Concerned that Henson might be recalled to the Wales squad for the World Cup in New Zealand this autumn, he indicated that with Wilkinson certain to be missing on England duty, he was more interested in personnel who would be available to him for the whole of next season – especially as one of his major signings, the Wallaby maestro Matt Giteau, will not arrive in Europe until after the global gathering.
Saint-André looks certain to lose another top-class goal-kicking midfielder in Felipe Contepomi, the Argentinian who played so brilliantly at the last World Cup. According to reports in France, the former Bristol player has decided to join the struggling Paris-based club Stade Français, where he will resume his productive relationship with the coach, Michael Cheika, under whom he played during a spell at Leinster.
Meanwhile, a second Welsh international currently under suspension – the Lions No 8 Andrew Powell, banned by Wasps pending completion of inquiries into a pub brawl with football supporters that left him nursing head injuries – is said to be interesting Saracens.Reuse content