Gatland waiting on Henson

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The Independent Online

Wales head coach Warren Gatland admits it is a case of "wait and see" on Gavin Henson's fitness for the Millennium Stadium showdowns against New Zealand and Australia.

Ospreys star Henson is set to undergo a scan and visit a specialist this week, as he seeks to address an ongoing Achilles problem which meant he withdrew from Saturday's narrow defeat at the hands of world champions South Africa less than 24 hours before kick-off.

He was not considered for this Friday night's clash with Canada, raising concerns over his availability when New Zealand arrive on November 22 and then Australia seven days later.

Wales attack coach Rob Howley claimed last week that Henson felt he was not physically and mentally prepared to face the Springboks.

It sparked media speculation about 26-year-old Henson's state of mind, but Gatland said today: "Is there some sort of conspiracy theory that you guys are trying to dream up?

"He (Howley) was talking about his frame of mind in terms of self-belief or confidence. He was purely relating it to the injury.

"Gavin has got to see a specialist, and when I hear back from the specialist, I will be able to make an opinion. It is just wait and see.

"Gavin is the type of player that needs to be 100% fit when he plays. If he is carrying a niggle, some players are like that, they don't have the confidence to go out and play if they are not 100% fit.

"Like all players, when you come back from an injury, you haven't played a lot of games and you get thrown into big Test matches, there are going to be a couple of doubts.

"The player is going to be asking: 'Am I right? Am I fit? Can I last 80 minutes?' You are going to be asking all those questions.

"The step up from club rugby to international rugby is absolutely huge.

"Part of our job with all players is to talk to them, give them that self-belief and confidence and not put them under too much pressure."

Henson, who suffered a serious ankle injury towards the end of last season, has not played for Wales since March.

The RBS 6 Nations title and Grand Slam-clinching victory over France was his last Test appearance.

If Henson is ruled out of the All Blacks and Wallabies games, then the earliest he could return to international duty would be Wales' Six Nations opener against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 8.

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