Henson preferred in Wales backline

Click to follow

Banned for speeding one day, given the green light to restart his international engine the very next; the life of Gavin Henson continues to be more turbulent than that of the average boyfriend of a pop star.

There was widespread incredulity on Monday when a Cardiff judge let off the Ospreys centre with a one-month suspension after being caught driving at around 100mph (his "Charidee" work being the reason) and the jaws did not spend long on the Principality turf until Gareth Jenkins put them back there yesterday. It was a commonly held view in Wales that their brave new coach would overlook the famous features of Henson in favour of a namesake - Gavin Evans of the Scarlets - especially as Jenkins had declared he would be selecting his XV to tackle Australia at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday "on form and form alone".

Henson is currently to form what he is to hairy legs and it was inevitable Jenkins would be questioned about the identity of the No 12 for his first match in charge on home soil.

"We have two fantastically talented young inside-centres in Gavin Evans and James Hook," he said. "But I feel Gavin [Henson] is still a player with tremendous potential." It is a potential that has not been seen in a starting line-up for Wales since the Six Nations match against Ireland in 2005. There was some small matter called the Grand Slam riding on that encounter and Jenkins will be praying that some of the magic of that season will be reprised this weekend as he reunites that dancing backline.

At outside-centre, Tom Shanklin will also feel the Three Feathers on his chest for the first time since that glorious afternoon - after coming back from a horrific knee injury which would have finished most careers - and with the former captain, Gareth Thomas, chosen on the wing, these are the boys who cut through the best defences of Europe with such panache 18 months ago. "That doesn't put any pressure on us then, does it?" Shanklin smiled. "Hopefully, we'll click just like we did before."

If they manage to, John Connolly's Wallabies had better look out as up front Jenkins was almost giggling with the options he had. Any pack that can overlook Duncan Jones - the loose-head who was actually Jenkins' captain on the summer tour to Argentina - has to have something immense about it, but then Gethin Jenkins has again looked the world beater he was before his last calamitous campaign.

Alas, it is not all sweetness and light for the Welsh coach and an ugly confrontation with Premier Rugby resulted in the Worcester prop Chris Horsman not being able to take his place on the bench. Welsh officials had struck a deal with Worcester concerning Horsman's release for the international which falls outside the International Rugby Board's designated window, but the club has been slapped down by the body which supposedly represents the best interests of the Guinness Premiership clubs.

Wales team

(v Australia, Investec Perpetual International, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Saturday): K Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons); G Thomas (Toulouse), T Shanklin (Cardiff Blues), G Henson (Ospreys), S Williams (Ospreys); S Jones (Llanelli Scarlets, capt), D Peel (Llanelli Scarlets); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), M Rees (Llanelli Scarlets), A Jones (Ospreys), I Gough (Newport Gwent Dragons), I Evans (Ospreys), J Thomas (Ospreys), M Williams (Cardiff Blues), R Jones (Ospreys).

Replacements: R Thomas (Cardiff Blues), D Jones (Ospreys), C Horsman (Worcester), A-W Jones (Ospreys), M Phillips (Cardiff Blues), J Hook (Ospreys), M Jones (Llanelli Scarlets).