London Irish distance themselves from Henson move

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Toby Booth has distanced London Irish from any realistic prospect of recruiting unsettled Wales star Gavin Henson.

Irish head coach Booth claims there is a "less than one per cent" chance Henson will make his way to the Madejski Stadium.

Henson is on indefinite unpaid leave from the Ospreys after he entered a self-imposed rugby exile on suffering another fitness setback during an injury-plagued career.

The 28-year-old, who is still under contract at the Ospreys, has indicated his preference for a playing switch to London, but Irish have followed their Aviva Premiership rivals Wasps, Saracens and Harlequins in effectively scotching such a scenario.

"There are a significant amount of things to consider before that (signing Henson) even becomes a possibility," said Booth, after his team's 23-16 Premiership victory over Gloucester.

"Is he the right player for the club? Is he the right player for the culture of the club? Is he the right sort of player for the way that we want to play?

"What is his motivation for him playing because, actually, it is not about us doing Gavin Henson a favour.

"Ultimately, we are here to be a serious contender in what we are trying to do.

"If he wants to contribute to that, of course we will have a conversation. But we haven't spoken to him, and I don't expect to speak to him.

"It will be my decision, but I haven't even had a conversation with my players yet because I don't think it warrants it. I would say there is a less than a one per cent chance (of signing Henson), or maybe even lower."

On the pitch, Irish's dominant scrum underpinned a victory far more comprehensive than the final scoreline suggests, and it lifted them to second in the Premiership behind unbeaten leaders Northampton.

Hooker James Buckland and number eight George Stowers scored tries in each half, while fly-half Ryan Lamb kicked 13 points against his former club, who scarcely deserved the losing bonus point collected when their ex-England wing Lesley Vainikolo touched down deep into injury-time.

Saracens inflicted a third successive defeat on Premiership basement side Leeds Carnegie, winning 26-14 in Yorkshire after wing David Strettle claimed a try on his full debut and hooker Schalk Brits also crossed.

"Leeds are a tough team and play courageously, but we ran out convincing winners," said Saracens rugby director Brendan Venter.

Leeds have now lost to Bath, Gloucester and Saracens this season, and they face a trip to reigning Premiership champions Leicester next Saturday.

"Some sides may have taken us a little easier last season, but we have earned the respect of the other teams and it will be more difficult this time," said Leeds rugby director Andy Key.

"However, if you want to be a big boy in the Premiership then you've got to perform for the whole 80 minutes. At the moment, we are not quite understanding that puzzle."