Henson's life too 'raw' for return to Ospreys

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The Independent Online

Wasps have spent the last few days denying, to anyone prepared to listen and at multi-decibel volume, that they have lured the "invisible centre" Gavin Henson back into competitive rugby by offering him an escape route from the Magners League champions Ospreys. This may be true, as far as it goes, but there is no doubting Henson's desire to play anywhere but at the Liberty Stadium. The Lions midfielder has told Welsh broadcasters that difficulties in his private life have left him too "raw" to rejoin his old team-mates any time soon.

Henson has been on unpaid leave from Ospreys for more than a year and has seen his highly public relationship with the singer Charlotte Church come to an end. Confirming to the BBC Wales Scrum V programme that he was keen to play rugby in unfamiliar surroundings, he explained: "It's just tough. It's because I know the Ospreys players so well... obviously there'll be banter, and obviously the personal relationship with Charlotte is all in the newspapers... I'm a bit raw, to be honest. I don't want to face it. I want to be somewhere new, where people are a bit too respectful to ask about my business and don't know who I am."

As Henson is the biggest rugby-playing celebrity in Wales and will soon be seen dancing his way across a zillion television screens in a prime-time slot on Saturday evenings, that last idea seemed just a little far-fetched. But he is certainly serious about piecing back together his broken rugby career – a career that once offered him the earth.

"I just want to play at a fresh club and see where I am rugby-wise," he said. "Ideally, that's what I would like to happen. If it doesn't happen, I won't feel too awkward about it." Might he play for Ospreys this season if club officials, understandably exasperated by this saga, hold him to the remaining months of his contract? "I'd do it," he replied. "It's not the end of the world. Crikey, I have friends there."

On the subject of international rugby, Henson seemed a little less confused than he was about club rugby. "I really believe I might need only one or two games to prove I've still got it," he said, looking ahead to next year's major tournaments: the Six Nations Championship and the World Cup in New Zealand. "I think the team has missed me a bit, so if I can come back and be as good or better than I was when I last played, or back to the standards of 2004-05, then yes, I can get in that Six Nations squad."

Meanwhile, Ospreys yesterday accused Wasps of making an approach to another of their international backs, the centre Andrew Bishop. "We're aware that contact was made and discussions were had," said a club spokesman. "It was brought to our attention and it has been dealt with formally. The issue was raised with the Welsh Rugby Union. The response will stay between us and them."

Ben Gollings, the heaviest scorer in the history of the International Rugby Board's annual seven-a-side series, will lead a 12-man England squad at the Commonwealth Games in India next month. England won a silver medal at the Melbourne Games four years ago, but that side included the likes of Mathew Tait and Danny Care and was good enough to declare two more Test players, Ugo Monye and David Strettle, surplus to requirements. This party has no capped personnel and only a smattering of Premiership experience.