Jonathan Davies: Take Charlotte's hint, Gavin, and get yourself some professional help

'When he has a go at his fellow players he loses my sympathy'
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The Independent Online

This is not meant to heap any more derision and criticism on to the player who was yesterday described as the most hated man in rugby. It is a genuine suggestion that he should start now to mend the damage he has done, particularly among his own countrymen. Mike Ruddock, the Wales coach, has created a Grand Slam-winning squad in which there is a close bond and mutual respect. He won't allow anyone to ruin that.

I don't know what professional help Charlotte is referring to, but the assistance Henson should be seeking is not from rugby experts, or even the men in white coats, but from someone who can control his public utterances about players he plays with and against.

A good time to start would be tomorrow, when he attends the official launch of his book My Grand Slam Year - at the Millennium Stadium, of all places. That is an ideal opportunity to take a mouthful of humble pie and apologise to those he has offended.

I have watched Gavin's progress with great interest and I firmly believe in his potential as a major force in the game, but I worry that it would be so easy for his career to suffer because of all the flak he is taking. When he returns to action after his injury the pressure on him is going to be enormous, and the self-belief that is so central to his game is going to be challenged like never before.

I can sympathise, because there was a time in Welsh rugby when I was the cocky kid with a lot to say for myself. I once asked the Welsh Rugby Union if I could speak at their annual conference after a disastrous tour to New Zealand. I, and many of my team-mates, felt that they were making basic mistakes and that it might help if they heard the players' point of view. My request was totally ignored and certainly not appreciated. These were the old amateur days, when a player with an opinion was a cheeky upstart. Even in these more enlightened, professional times players with something to say are not welcome.

But I don't care who in authority Gavin upsets if he has an honest opinion. I feel that his criticism of the way Clive Woodward ran the Lions in New Zealand was completely justified. Gavin was unfairly treated, as were many others. And who could argue with his verdict of the "unbelievable crap" that came from spin-doctor Alastair Campbell? Henson was personally involved in some of that.

But it is when he starts having a go at his fellow players that he loses my sympathy. He writes that he respects me for saying what I think, but if I had any criticism of a fellow player I would make it to his face at the time. There's plenty of time when you finish playing to reveal what went on, and his book would have been a great read when his career was over. All it does now is upset the wrong people - his contemporaries. His advisers can have no idea of rugby. It is played by some of the hardest men in sport, but they abide by a strict code of honour.

If Brian O'Driscoll did try to gouge him in the Six Nations last season then he should have mentioned it to him after the match, not make the accusation in public months later.

Gavin's high profile as a glamourous young man doesn't help. His public image is not yet matched by enough achievement on the field. He still has much to prove. I know him to be a solid professional, he looks after himself very well, but he should now concentrate on his rugby at the expense of anything else.

When I moved to rugby league in 1989 I was very much in the public eye and had plenty of commercial offers. One was a lucrative offer to model clothes. Rejecting it was a wise move. The opposition did their best to smash the living daylights out of me as it was; if I'd have gone modelling, they'd have eaten me alive.

Your fellow players will forgive you anything once you've established your playing credentials beyond doubt, but start getting flash before your time and you run the risk of a painful reminder of their disapproval.

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