Ruck and Maul: Henson could 'make a fool of himself'... and Baa-Baas coach is not talking dancing

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The Barbarians' coach Nick Mallett will not insist on Gavin Henson playing any rugby before his appearance against the world champions South Africa at Twickenham in December. But Mallett says the under-active Wales centre must be "fully motivated and fit to play" or risk a cameo role of a few minutes. Henson's last match was for the Ospreys against Gloucester in March 2009 and he is in a legal wrangle with his club. Mallett, taking a break from his day job coaching Italy, will muster a 22-man Barbarians squad, including Henson and the Australia half-backs Will Genia and Matt Giteau, six days before meeting the Springboks. There are players on standby and Henson's involvement depends on him getting knocked out of 'Strictly Come Dancing' in the meantime. "The emphasis is on honesty," Mallett told Ruck and Maul. "It depends what Gavin wants to get out of it. He must arrive fully motivated and fit to play. For a man of his experience, and if he's at his playing weight, 25 or 30 minutes in the second half is not going to be too tough. If it's going to be a joke, to sell tickets, he'll get very little game time, a few minutes. I've got a good squad including Australian backs who have played together. He'd make a fool of himself if he was way off the pace. Not having made a tackle or played a game for so long beforehand would be a disadvantage. It would be ideal if he has a couple of games first, but who with? I know Gavin has been looking to get a contract and make a statement about his life. If he's enthusiastic and keen he's a great asset."

Throw book at Montpellier

A European Rugby Cup board meeting next month will decide whether to punish Saracens for their captain Steve Borthwick's non-appearance at a media event last Monday. Tournament regulations include fixed fines for specific breaches, and €5,000 is the likeliest sanction. So where does that leave Montpellier? The surprise early pacesetters in France's Top 14 have named a squad lacking nine first-choice players for the pool stage of the Amlin Challenge Cup. The absent men include the club's French internationals Fulgence Ouedraogo, François Trinh-Duc, Julien Tomas and Benjamin Thiery. True, Borthwick was obliged to meet the press instead of going to a beer festival. But he will be available to face Clermont in the Heineken Cup next week. Montpellier have pulled their star turns from playing in European matches. What will the ERC say about that?

Finding his touch at golf

To add to the Ryder Cup spirit, Welsh golf has a new star – from rugby. The former Wales Under-21 back-row Mark Lewis was forced by a knee injury to hang up his boots last year, at the age of 26. Taking up where he left off as a schoolboy international, he recently went round Royal Birkdale in 69 shots. He fancies qualifying for the European Amateur Championships and, potentially, the Walker Cup. "I'm playing off plus one which is an improvement since the rugby finished," said Lewis. "I've a lot more time to spend on the greens now. It would be a great to play for Wales, even if it wasn't at rugby."

hughgodwin@yahoo.co.uk

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